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    Susser Expects Q4 Merchandise Sales Decline

    But annual same-store sales expected to be positive.

    CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- In an update released Friday, Susser Holdings Corp., operator of more than 520 Stripes and Town & Country convenience stores based here, said it expects to report a same-store merchandise sales decline of approximately 1.2 percent for the fourth quarter of 2009, but anticipates growth of approximately 3.3 percent for the full year.

    "Last year was the 21st consecutive year that Susser realized positive annual same-store sales growth," Sam L. Susser, president and CEO, said in a statement.

    Retail average per-store fuel volumes were expected to decline 5.9 percent compared to the fourth quarter 2008, but on a full-year basis, fuel volumes were expected to be up 2.4 percent, the company stated.

    The company's 2009 same-store sales and per-store fuel volume growth were in the middle of Susser's guidance, and both figures exclude the impact of the 53rd week in 2009, for comparison against the prior year.

    "The fourth quarter merchandise comparison reflects the fact that the recession accelerated in Texas in the last part of 2009," Susser noted. "Our fourth quarter retail fuel volume also compares against a three-month period of increasing gasoline demand a year earlier, fueled by falling prices at the pump."

    He added: "The company was cycling up against growth in same-store merchandise of 6.5 percent and in average per-store fuel volume of 6.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008."

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