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
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.