Morrisons reports record Christmas performance

Morrisons claims to have posted “record” Christmas figures in the six weeks to 1 January, boosted by the final week before Christmas.

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The Morrisons Christmas ad

Total sales during the period increased 2.9%, while like-for-like sales, which include stores open for more than a year, increased 0.7%. The figures are lower than expected by analysts.

The supermarket says its focus on “outstanding quality, sharp prices and innovative promotional offers” helped attract more than 800,000 additional customers each week.

Morrisons figures come as Nielsen reports that the supermarkets saw a “significant” uplift in sales in the final seven days of pre-Christmas trading, as shoppers who had held back earlier in the month spent more than £4bn in the final week.

Dalton Philips, CEO of Morrisons, says that the chain’s emphasis on fresh food also helped increase festive sales.

He adds: “In 2012 the UK consumer environment will remain cautious despite an anticipated reduction in inflationary pressures. Against this backdrop, our fresh, quality and value credentials continue to appeal to a growing customer base and we are well positioned to make further progress.”

Meanwhile, separate figures from Nielsen show a 5.9% sales rise at Morrisons in December. Nielsen also reports a 10.7% sales increase at Asda compared to last year an 8/8% rise at Waitrose and a 6.7% rise for Sainsbury’s.

Aldi was the biggest winner in December as it achieved growth of more than 40%, according to Nielsen figures.

Nielsen senior manager for retailer services Mike Watkins says: “This was one of the biggest pre-Christmas weeks for UK food retailers. Overall, this was a disloyal Christmas, with retailers experiencing more shopper visits and more ‘new’ shoppers than last year, as consumers shopped around for choice and range as well as the best deals and deepest promotions.”

All the major supermarkets are due to report on Christmas trading this week.

Morrisons is also rumoured to be acquiring the 11 former Best Buy stores in the UK as part of its strategy to grow its Kiddicare baby chain. Morrisons acquired the Kiddicare brand last year in a move that marked its first steps into online retail. It has since been looking at ways to integrate the brand with its supermarket stores and grow the business.

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