US supermarket group Publix has seen earnings growth accelerate in the third quarter, on sales that remained relatively flat.

The Florida-based grocer said third-quarter earnings jumped 26.3%, climbing to US$254.9m, up from $201.8m for the comparable period of last year. Nine-month earnings climbed 4.3% to 877.3m.

Third-quarter sales totalled $5.83bn, up 0.6%. However, like-for-like sales dipped 4.7% in the period.

"We are pleased with the improvement in our net earnings compared to the third quarter of 2008. But we understand our net earnings are essentially the same as our results for the third quarters of 2006 and 2007," said Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw. "Even in these difficult times, our associates continue to deliver the excellent service our customers expect."