Discount retailer 99 Cents Only Stores said same-store sales fell 2.8 percent in the first quarter, citing rainy weather, high gas prices and an unfavorable comparison with last year when a strike at southern California grocery stores during the first quarter temporarily boosted sales.

"We are disappointed with our first quarter 2005 same-store-sales," said Chief Executive Eric Schiffer in a press release.

Overall, first quarter sales rose 5.3 percent to $242.3 million from the year-ago first quarter, when a leap year added one day to the selling season for the City of Commerce retailer.

"We believe the historic levels of rainfall that Southern California experienced throughout the first quarter severely affected customer traffic," Schiffer said.

99 Cents Only also said it expects to release its fourth quarter and full-year earnings by April 29, after it completes reviews of its lease accounting methods. The company previously said would delay reporting its fourth quarter results to address these matters and restate its 2002 and 2003 results, along with the first three quarters of 2004. The restatements are expected to have no impact on cash flows or cash balances.

The company said it will delay reporting its first quarter results until its fourth quarter and 2004 earnings are reported.

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