Sainsbury’s says shoppers splashed out for Christmas

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SAINSBURY’S reported a tough October and November as shoppers reined in spending ahead of the festive period, but said trading picked up in December.

The supermarket chain reported like-for-like sales growth of just 0.2 per cent in the 14 weeks to January 4, but said this was ahead of its major rivals.

Tesco and Marks & Spencer will report Christmas trading today followed by Morrisons on January 20 and Asda on February 20.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King said the festive quarter had been a “very tough sales environment”, but the supermarket managed to maintain its record of growth leading to 36 successive periods of expansion.

Mr King said the seven days prior to Christmas was the group’s busiest ever trading week, with more than 28 million transactions.

“This quarter has been characterised by a very tough sales environment throughout October and November, with customers saving up in order to treat their families over the Christmas period,” he said.

“However, we saw strong sales in the key period over Christmas.”

Mr King described the festive period as “our best Christmas ever”.

Meanwhile upmarket grocer Waitrose posted a jump in like-for-like sales over the Christmas period, confirming its position as one of the festive winners.

Waitrose, part of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership, said that for the five-week period to December 24 underlying sales excluding fuel rose 3.1 per cent.

Waitrose said that sales of its premium ranges soared, with growth of 46 per cent in its Heston brand, named after celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal.

Convenience chain Nisa said December sales grew 15.3 per cent in value terms and 16.4 per cent in volume year on year.

And The Co-op retail chain reported a strong performance over Christmas and the New Year, driven by increasing demand for its core convenience stores.

Like-for-like sales rose 1.0 per cent in the 13 weeks to January 4 and growth was fuelled by convenience stores which reported like-for-like sales growth of 3.2 per cent.