US retail giant Safeway Inc today (14 October) posted an almost 5% fall in quarterly profits as the company fought increased competition in the country’s grocery sector.

Safeway booked net income of US$122.8m for the 12 weeks to 11 September, down 4.8% on the year.

The retailer’s gross profit as a percentage of sales fell from 28.27% to 28.14% as the company invested in price.

Nevertheless, Safeway’s identical-store sales, excluding fuel, fell 2%, which drove a fall in total sales, which stood at $9.4bn against $9.5 last year.

Chairman, president and CEO Steve Burd said the results were “in line with our expectations” and he pointed to an improvement in the “price per item” during the quarter. He added: “We expect this trend to continue as we anniversary the price investments we made in the second half of 2009.”