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Fred's key revenue metric falls 0.5 pct for May

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Discount retailer Fred's Inc. said Thursday its May revenue at stores open at least a year fell 0.5 percent, as unusually cool weather continued to reduce demand for summer items.

The drop was smaller than Wall Street expected. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a decrease of 0.8 percent. The metric is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it excludes revenue at stores that recently opened or closed.

Total sales for the four-week period ended June 1 increased 0.2 percent to $152.4 million from $152.1 million a year ago.

CEO Bruce Efird said unseasonal cool and wet weather in May continued to reduce sales of lawn and garden items, summer toys and other seasonal merchandise. Sales at the company's pharmacy department also were hurt by the continued shift toward generic drugs, he said.

For the first four months of the year, revenue at stores open at least a year fell 1.1 percent, while total sales increased 0.2 percent to $653.9 million.

Fred's operates 715 stores, including 21 franchised stores, in the southeastern U.S.

Shares of Fred's rose 5 cents to $16.01 in morning trading.