For the fiscal 2012 third quarter, net sales increased to $251.8 million from net sales of $234.7 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2011. Same store sales increased 5.2% for the third quarter of 2012 versus the comparable period in the prior year. As anticipated, third quarter sales reflect a modest benefit over the prior year from the calendar shift of the Fourth of July holiday, which resulted in certain holiday-related sales moving from the second quarter to the third quarter for 2012.
Gross profit for the fiscal 2012 third quarter increased to $83.9 million from $77.0 million in the third quarter of the prior year. The Company's gross profit margin was 33.3% in the fiscal 2012 third quarter versus 32.8% in the third quarter of the prior year. The increase in gross profit margin reflects an increase in merchandise margins of 25 basis points and the leveraging of store occupancy and distribution costs.
Selling and administrative expense as a percentage of net sales improved to 27.9% in the fiscal 2012 third quarter from 28.8% in the third quarter of the prior year. Overall selling and administrative expense increased $2.9 million during the quarter from the prior year due primarily to higher store-related expenses reflecting an increased store count, increased employee benefit-related costs and a pre-tax charge of $0.4 million related to the closing of one store.
Net income for the third quarter of fiscal 2012 was $8.2 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, including a store closing charge of $0.01 per diluted share, versus net income of $5.8 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, for the third quarter of fiscal 2011.
For the 39-week period ended September 30, 2012, net sales increased to $696.9 million from net sales of $675.4 million in the 39 weeks ended October 2, 2011. Same store sales increased 1.2% in the first 39 weeks of fiscal 2012 versus the comparable period last year. Net income was $10.9 million, or $0.50 per diluted share, including $0.04 of store closing and non-cash impairment charges, for the first 39 weeks of fiscal 2012, compared to net income of $11.7 million, or $0.53 per diluted share, including a $0.02 non-cash impairment charge, for the comparable period last year.
"We are extremely pleased with our third quarter results, which built on the positive momentum in the second quarter and exceeded our earnings guidance," said Steven G. Miller, the Company's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We experienced improvement in both customer traffic and average sale, as well as expanded merchandise and operating margins.
“The strength of our performance was broad-based, as same store sales increased in each of our geographic regions and across all of our major product categories of apparel, footwear and hardgoods. We believe our business has continued to benefit from the merchandise and marketing initiatives that we have implemented over the last year. Additionally, our summer product sales benefited from relatively favorable weather compared to the prior year."
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