PHILADELPHIA-Auto-parts chain Pep Boys’ new-store openings next year could double the company’s 2009 output. The retailer, which operates 560 locations nationwide, is planning 20 to 40 new units in 2010, and an increase from the 15 locations management expects to open by the end of this year.

The new locations, which are mostly service and tire centers, will be concentrated in the Northeast, Southern California and the Chicago-metro area. Pep Boys is also testing a new Speed Shop concept, currently with one store in Los Angeles and another soon-to-open location in Lancaster, PA.

During its second quarter, Pep Boys’ same-store sales dropped 2.3%. Comparable merchandise sales fell 4%, but same-store service revenue posted a 5.2% jump.

Merchandise sales are getting hurt by lower consumer spending during the recession and a continuing decrease in miles driven by Americans, said Mike O’Dell, chief executive officer, during Pep Boys’ second-quarter conference call. But those numbers could turn around, he said, because “the decline in miles driven has moderated.”

Total sales were down to $488.9 million during the quarter from $500 million during the same year-ago period. However, like may retailers cutting costs in the recession, Pep Boys managed to post higher net earnings, taking in $7.7 million, up from the prior period’s $5.4 million.

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