Circuit City Stores Inc. of Richmond blamed increased competition in an atmosphere of reduced consumer confidence for lower profit in the third quarter ended Nov. 30.

In the quarter, the consumer electronics chain's net income fell 70 percent to $4.4 million (10 cents a share) from $14.6 million (32 cents) in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue rose 12 percent to $589.1 million from $525.9 million a year ago.

But the chain's sales at stores open more than a year, generally considered a measure of a retailer's underlying health, fell 5 percent.

"We were disappointed in our comparable store growth during the quarter," said President Richard L. Sharp. "The decline in consumer confidence regarding the overall economy had a major impact on our sales during the quarter."

The company explained that, with the soft economy, electronics and appliances retailers promoted their merchandise more aggressively, which helped reduce Circuit City's gross profit margin to 28.6 percent in the quarter compared with 29.5 percent a year earlier.

In addition, Circuit City said, two new competitors in the Los Angeles market cut into its sales.

Dart Group Corp., the Landover holding company controlled by Herbert Haft and his family, reported that profit increased 39 percent in the third quarter ended Oct. 31.

Dart holds significant ownership positions in the Trak Auto, Crown Books and Shoppers Food Warehouse chains.

Net income in the quarter rose to $2.5 million ($1.37 a share) from $1.8 million (95 cents) in the same quarter last year.

Revenue rose 21 percent to $276.5 million from $228.3 million last year.

Dart, which had been active in corporate takeovers in recent years, reported as part of its income a $9,000 profit from buying back debt securities.