Regional US retailer Weis Markets claimed “progress” after its first-quarter underlying sales inched up 0.8%.

That was the growth in Weis Markets’ comparable-store sales for the 13 weeks to 30 March in what president and CEO David Hepfinger called “a soft sales environment”.

“We continue to make forward progress in a market impacted by a poor economy that is generating minimal job growth. These have been ongoing trends in most of the markets we serve,” Hepfinger said.

Weis Markets, which has 164 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia, reported a 3.2% increase in net sales to $682.7m. Net income was up 0.5% at $20.1m.

“Our customers were also impacted in the first quarter by a tax increase and post-holiday debt. This soft sales environment spurred increased competitive activity in most of our key markets. We were able to offset these trends through disciplined marketing and promotional programs and improved productivity and operational efficiencies at store and distributional levels,” Hepfinger added.

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