LOS ANGELES Feb 21 Supermarket operator Safeway Inc on Thursday said store sales have strengthened from the previous quarter and it has seen no impact from higher payroll taxes, which have cut take-home pay for many shoppers.
If trends hold for the remainder of the week, Safeway's identical-store sales will be up 2 percent for the first eight weeks of the quarter, Steve Burd, Safeway's chairman and chief executive, said on a conference call with analysts.
Safeway's identical-store sales were up 0.8 percent, excluding fuel, for the fourth quarter.
At Safeway, that closely-watched measure includes results from established supermarkets that have not been replaced or significantly renovated.
While some retailers and restaurants have attributed softening sales to the Jan. 1 expiration of a 2 percentage point cut in payroll taxes, Safeway saw no impact, Burd said.
"We can't really see any decline that resulted from the payroll tax going up," Burd said.