US supermarket operator said fourth quarter sales had been soft amid consumer concerns about the weak economy, high unemployment and uncertainty over a possible war.

To February 1 sales rose 2.8% to $12.5bn from $12.1bn, while full-year turnover increased from $51.8bn from $50.1bn last year.

Kroger chairman and CEO Joseph Pichler said: "Competition remains intense and consolidation is continuing at a rapid pace.

"Kroger is narrowing the price gap with discount operators and extending our price advantage over traditional competitors in most markets."