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MATTHEWS, NC-With the current economy challenging its lower-income customers, Family Dollar Stores will keep a tight rein on store expansion while focusing more on consumables, executives said at its first quarter 2008 conference call. Store expansion will continue at about 2% to 4% this year until operating margins improve, said Howard R. Levine, chairman and CEO.

“New store growth continues to be an important priority for us,” Levine said. During the first quarter of fiscal 2008, the company opened 67 new stores and closed 20 stores.

In addition, the company is increasing the store space allotted to food and other consumable items to drive traffic to the stores more frequently. The reallocation has already taken place in 2,700 units, with another 2,700 stores to be converted in the spring.

Sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 were approximately $1,683.0 million, up 5.2% from the first quarter of fiscal 2007. Comparable store sales rose 1.0% Net income for the quarter decreased 4.1% to $51.9 million.

Family Dollar operates more than 6,400 stores in 44 states.

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