MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Discount retailer Fred's Inc. said Thursday that February sales at stores open at least a year fell 2.2 percent, hindered by severe winter weather.
The performance surprised analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who were expecting a 0.2 percent increase in the metric.
This figure is a key gauge of a retailer's health. It excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.
CEO Bruce Efird said in a statement that cold temperatures, ice and snow in the southeast in February were "major factors" in its same-store sales decline. The executive said that the weather conditions led to store closings and fewer operating hours at a significant number of its shops.
Still, Efird said that Fred's did see better February same-store sales in the pet, pharmacy and hometown auto and hardware departments.
Total sales for the four weeks ended March 1 dipped 1 percent to $157.5 million from $159 million.
Memphis, Tenn.-based Fred's has 704 stores, including 21 franchised locations, in the southeastern U.S.
Its shares rose 2 cents to $19.94 in early morning trading Thursday. Its shares are up more than 47 percent since a year ago.