Family Dollar Stores has booked an increase in third-quarter net income but said the environment remains “challenging”.

For the three months ended 29 May, net income increased 19% to US$104.4m.

Sales for the quarter amounted to $1.997bn, an 8.4% increase on the prior year. Comparable store sales rose 7% as a result of increased customer traffic, as measured by the number of register transactions.

 “We continue to deliver greater value for our customers while improving their shopping experience in our stores. Our revenue growth has accelerated nicely and I am pleased to report our ninth consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings per share growth,” said Howard Levine, chairman and CEO.

However, he added: “The environment remains challenging for consumers, and customers continue to buy close to need,“ said Levine. “The fourth quarter is off to a good start, with sales in comparable stores increasing an estimated 5.5% in June.”

Levine said he expects fourth-quarter comparable store sales to increase 5% to 7% and EPS to be between $0.46 and $0.51 compared with $0.43 in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009.