The supermarket saw sales from stores open for a year or more, excluding fuel, increased 0.2 per cent in the 14 weeks to 4 January, almost putting an end to 35 consecutive quarters of growth. The performance represents a marked slowdown from the 2.1 per cent registered for the previous quarter but did beat the expectations of several analysts who had forecasted sales would decline.
Sales picked up in the final week before Christmas, however, with 28 million transactions representing the supermarket’s “busiest ever trading week”.
Its Christmas performance could have been helped by the reception to its “Christmas in a Day” marketing campaign received. The campaign was based around a 50-minute movie directed by Oscar winner Keven McDonald featuring shoppers’ take on Christmas. The TV ad and full length movie attracted millions of YouTube views.
Justin King says of the quarterly results, the company’s third quarter: “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. However, we saw strong sales in the key period over Christmas, helping record numbers of customers to Live Well for Less. Like-for-like sales excluding fuel of 0.2 per cent, coupled with a strong contribution from new space, led to our best Christmas ever.”
Rival Tesco will update the City on its Christmas performance tomorrow (9 Janaury). Analysts expect the supermarket to post another quarterly decline in like for like sales.