US supermarket chain Stater Bros. yesterday (18 December) admitted that the economic downturn had weighed on the business as it posted a drop in annual earnings.

The company, which runs 165 supermarkets in California, booked net income of US$40.6m for the 12 months to 28 September. Net income reached $49.4m a year earlier.

Fourth-quarter net income fell from $10.4m in fiscal 2007 to $7.2m.

"Our financial results in both the fourth quarter and fiscal year of 2008 were affected by the downturn in the economy and the negative effect the economy has had on the family budgets of our 'Valued Customers'," Stater Bros.' chairman president and CEO Jack Brown said.

Full-year sales rose 1.8% to $3.74bn. Stater Bros. said its fiscal 2007 results included an extra week of sales and, after excluding that additional week, sales for fiscal 2008 rose 3.8%.