(June 24) A major southeastern grocer has issued a pessimistic sales outlook.

In its fourth-quarter earnings report, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. reports same store sales will decline 3% to 4% while earnings will fall by 20%.

The announcement means earnings for the quarter, which ends June 25, will be 28 cents to 31 cents a share, below the supermarket’s previously forecast 35 cents to 39 cents earnings.

The chain attributed the earnings decline to a continued softness in sales and a competitive retail environment.

The forecast does not include the $7.7 million Winn-Dixie says it will pay to its president and chief executive officer, Al Rowland, who is retiring at the end of June.