Giant Food Inc., one of the two largest supermarket chains in the Washington area, yesterday reported record sales and earnings for the past year, but reduced earnings as a percentage of sales.

The company also reported that fourth quarter profits were lower than those earned during the previous year and the net income as a percentage of sales was also reduced.

A Giant spokesperson said the store's frequent promotional campaigns and increased operating expenses caused the decrease in earnings percentage.

"The company has often said that the supermarket business is dependent upon volume," a company statement said, "and Giant is committed to maintaining and building its sales volume as the best guarantee of proper profit performance."

During the year ended Feb. 23, Giant's sales were $1.2 billion compared with $1.1 billion the previous year. Net income was $17.9 million ($3.64 a share) compared with $17 million ($3.40). those figures represent a drop in percentage of sales from 1.57 percent to 1.44 percent.

Fourth quarter sales increased 16.1 percent from $360 million to $418 million. Net income however, dropped from $7.9 million ($1.59) to $6.5 million ($1.33). That represents a decrease in percentage of sales from 2.20 percent to 1.55 percent.

During the year Giant opened four food and pharmacy stores and completed major remodeling on three other stores, the company said. Three new food pharmacies are under construction in Edgewater, Md., Shady Grove Road and Crabbs Branch Way in Montgomery County and in Clinton, Md.

An additional food-pharmacy is scheduled for construction in Waldorf, Md., and two are planned for Baltimore County, the company said. Giant operates 121 stores.