US supermarket retailer Safeway has posted a net loss for the fourth quarter, as an ongoing grocery strike reduced earnings by around US$102.9m.

The company posted a net loss of $695.9m, or $1.57 per share, for the fourth quarter to 3 January, compared to a loss of $1.05bn, or $2.37 per share, in the year-ago period.

Safeway said its results were affected by the impact of the ongoing Southern California strike, and the impact of non-cash charges related to taking Dominick’s off the market.

Total sales increased to $11.0bn from $10.7bn in the fourth quarter of 2002, primarily due to the additional week in the 2003 quarter, new store openings and additional fuel sales, partly offset by the impact of the strike.

Safeway has withdrawn guidance for fiscal 2004 as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing Southern California labour dispute.