US retailer Ingles Markets posted a decline in full-year earnings, despite a 13.6% increase in sales.

For the 2008 year, net income dropped to US$52.1m from $58.6m in the previous year as a result of energy costs, weather-related disruptions and higher costs related to the company's accelerated store expansions this year.

Net sales increased to $3.24bn from $2.85bn for the year ended 27 September.

Ingles said sales increased in every major grocery segment product category and in the fluid dairy segment.

Grocery segment comparable store sales increased 13.5%, including gasoline sales.

"During the fourth quarter, we absorbed many cost increases to keep our prices low," said Robert Ingle, chief executive officer. "We believe this strategy is important to maintain customer loyalty and to help our customers during these uncertain economic times."

Net income for the fourth quarter totalled $10.5m compared to $14.2m in fiscal 2007, while net sales increased 13.0% to $842.8 million.