CHICAGO - Family Dollar Stores Inc's fourth-quarter sales growth fell short of expectations, leading its shares to fall 9 percent in premarket trading even though the retailer stood by its fourth-quarter profit forecast.

Family Dollar, which prices most of its merchandise $10 or less, has been attracting more consumers who want to save money. It faced a tough comparison to last year's August, when shoppers spent U.S. government stimulus checks at its stores.

Net sales for the quarter that ended Aug. 29, climbed 2.6 percent to about $1.81 billion. The company had forecast a net sales increase of 4 percent to 6 percent and analysts on average expected revenue of nearly $1.86 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 1 percent, while Family Dollar in July had forecast a rise of 2 percent to 4 percent.

Family Dollar said it still expects to post a profit of 39 cents to 43 cents per share for the fourth quarter when it issues full quarterly results on Oct. 7. Analysts' average forecast is 42 cents per share. (Reporting by Jessica Wohl, editing by Maureen Bavdek)