Fred's December sales grew 1% to US$213M as comparable-store sales fell 0.4%; CEO says results were hurt by unseasonably warm weather

MEMPHIS , January 5, 2012 () – Fred's Inc. (NASDAQ:FRED - News) today reported sales for the five-week fiscal month and 11-month year-to-date period ended December 31, 2011.

Fred's total sales for the month increased 1% to $213.0 million from $210.5 million in December 2010. Comparable store sales for the month declined 0.4% compared with an increase of 0.2% in the same period last year.

Fred's total sales for the year-to-date period increased 2% to $1.747 billion compared with $1.713 billion in the same period last year. On a comparable store basis, year-to-date sales increased 0.7% on top of an increase of 2.2% in the same period last year.

Commenting on the announcement, Bruce A. Efird, Chief Executive Officer, said, "December sales were affected significantly by unseasonably warm weather throughout the month. Sales in areas such as heaters, softlines, automotive, and healthcare products reduced overall comparable store sales by more than 200 basis points as our customers typically purchase these products as needed. We expect a recovery in these product sales as colder weather returns over the next few months. December sales remained strong in several areas, most notably in Pet, Household Supplies and Pharmacy – three of our Core 5 departments. Even though overall sales did not hit expectations for the month, we continued to control markdowns and operating expenses and now expect earnings for the fourth quarter to be at the low to midpoint of our projected range $0.23 to $.027 per diluted share."

During the month, Fred's opened seven net stores, including five new pharmacies.

Fred's Inc. operates 695 discount general merchandise stores, including 22 franchised Fred's stores, in the southeastern United States. For more information about the Company, visit Fred's Website at www.fredsinc.com.

Comments in this news release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, general economic trends, changes in consumer demand or purchase patterns, delays or interruptions in the flow of merchandise between the Company's distribution centers and its stores or between the Company's suppliers and same, a disruption in the Company's data processing services, costs and delays in acquiring or developing new store sites, and other contingencies discussed in the Company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Fred's undertakes no obligation to release revisions to these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unforeseen events, except as required to be reported under the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange

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