Californian retailer Stater Bros. has seen its profits more than halve in the first nine months of its fiscal year.

Net income for the 39-week period to 27 June dropped to US$18.7m from $29.8m a year earlier.

Consolidated sales slid to $2.71bn, from $2.82bn. Around $72.6m of this was attributable to the sale of Santee Dairies in the first quarter of the retailer’s fiscal year.

Store sales declined by $36.8m, while like-store sales declined 2.2% from the prior year.

“The current economic downturn has impacted our customers’ family budgets and has made them even more conscious of getting value for their food dollars,” said Stater Bros. chairman, president and CEO Jack Brown. He noted that it would take “some time” for the Southern California economy to rebound.

Stater Bros. posted net income for its fiscal third quarter of $6m compared with $15.1m a year earlier.

Sales dropped to $900m versus $928.6m in the comparable period of 2009, while like-store sales were down 1.2%.