PENNSAUKEN, NJ. — When J&J Snack Foods Corp. starts reporting healthy sales growth again, company executives might want to hum the 1957 advertising jingle “Let’s all go to the lobby.” Consumers returning to movie theaters could lead to improved financial results for the Pennsauken-based company.

For now, the company will explore other categories for its products, particularly Icee.

J&J Snack Foods posted net earnings of $1.8 million, or 9¢ per share on the common stock, in the first quarter ended Dec. 26, 2020, which was down from $17.1 million, or 90¢ per share, in the previous year’s first quarter. Operating income fell to $578,000 from $21.7 million as costs related to COVID-19 had an impact of about $730,000. Sales were $241 million, down 15% from $282.9 million in the previous year’s first quarter. The decrease marked an improvement from the latest fourth quarter, when sales were down 19%.

Foodservice sales of $160.4 million were down 13% from $183.5 million in the previous year’s first quarter. Venues and channels like theme parks, schools and theaters continued to operate at limited capacity because of COVID-19, which impacted foodservice sales. The 13% decrease was an improvement from a 21% decrease in the latest fourth quarter.

“I think there are people who want to get out there and see the movies,” said Daniel Fachner, president of J&J Snack Foods, in a Jan. 26 earnings call. “We just don’t know how quickly that will happen, and so we really have tried to shift and put our focus on new sales and new channels.”

He said Icee was underdeveloped in the fast-casual and quick-service restaurant categories.

“Our guys are out there knocking on doors each and every day, and we have some tests in place that we hope that we’ll come through,” Mr. Fachner said. “We have a lot of really good things going on, on that side. We’re making sure that we’re redeploying any equipment that we have trying to keep our capital down there so that we can use that capital to gain efficiencies on the J&J side.”

The stock market responded favorably after first-quarter results were given. The stock price for J&J Snack Foods closed at $164.91 per share on the Nasdaq on Jan. 26, which compared with a close of $156.89 per share on Jan. 25.

J&J Snack Foods sustained decreased foodservice sales in soft pretzels, down 35% to $32.7 million; frozen juices and ices, down 11% to $6.3 million; churros, down, 30% to $11.5 million; and funnel cakes, down 49% to $3.1 million. Sales of handhelds increased 145% as a wholesale club customer had success with a new product. Operating income in the foodservice segment fell to $6.2 million from $18 million.

Retail supermarket sales of $39.1 million were up 33% from $29.4 million in the previous year’s first quarter. Sales increases were reported for Superpretzel, up 41% to $13.9 million; frozen juices and ices, up 52% to $15.3 million; and biscuits, up 10% to $7.7 million. Operating income in the retail supermarket segment increased 113% to $4.7 million from $2.2 million.

Frozen beverage sales of $41.5 million were down 41% from $70 million in the previous year’s first quarter. Gallon sales fell 56% as concerns related to COVID-19 had a negative impact on traffic in theaters, amusement venues and key retailers. The frozen beverage segment recorded an operating loss of $10.3 million, which compared with operating income of $1.5 million in the previous year’s first quarter.

Companywide, J&J Snack Foods had a cash and securities balance of $285 million on Dec. 26, 2020, which was up $7 million from the end of the fiscal year, said Gerald B. Shreiber, chief executive officer.

“We continue to drive positive cash flow, and our balance sheet and liquidity remained strong in this challenging environment,” he said. “We continue to look for acquisition opportunities and remain focused on the long-term growth opportunities of our business.”