Cost-conscious consumers were good to discount chain 99 Cents Only Stores in its fourth quarter, driving up sales more than 13 percent as shoppers sought out more bargains during the recession.

In a pre-earnings announcement on Thursday, the Commerce retail chain said sales for three months ended March 28 rose 13.3 percent from a year ago to more than $329 million. Same-store sales for locations open at least a year rose 6 percent to $319 million. The chain operates 275 stores in California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.

Chief Executive Eric Schiffer said the gain was particularly impressive since the same quarter last year included Easter, a high sales time for the chain.

"We believe that many people are coming into our stores for the first time because of the recession, and we expect to retain them as long-term customers," Schiffer said in a statement, noting that shoppers are turning to his company's stores for more of their everyday household needs, including perishable food and other consumable items.

Total sales for the fiscal year were up nearly 8.6 percent to $1.3 billion, with same-store sales rising 3.7 percent. The company did not announce a date for its earnings release.

99 Cents Only shares were up 46 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $10.41 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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