Sainsbury’s reports sales slowdown

Sainsbury’s has reported a slowdown in sales during the fourth quarter as the tough consumer environment forced customers to manage their spending more carefully.

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The supermarket reported a 1% rise in like for like sales in the 10 weeks to 19 March, a slowdown from the 2% rise recorded in Sainsbury’s half year trading update and its slowest quarterly growth rate for the year.

During the period, Sainsbury’s non-food sales grew more than three times the rate of food and its online grocery business grew at 20% year on year.

As commodities prices rise customers are facing rising supermarket prices which is stretching household budgets.

The supermarket says marketing initiatives such as Sainsbury’s meal planner menu cards and its five family meals for £20 promotion have helped consumers looking to save money by cooking from scratch have helped the supermarket attract record numbers of shoppers during the period.

It now counts 21 million customer transactions a week, one million more than in the previous year.

Sainsbury’s also says it has exceeded its space growth target and has added 15.9% of new space since 2009.

For the full year, Sainsbury’s reported a 2.3% rise in like for like sales and a 4.9% rise in total sales, excluding fuel.

Justin King, Sainsbury’s chief executive, says he expects the consumer environment to remain tough as customers face fuel price inflation, rising unemployment and Government spending cuts.

Sainsbury’s will report its full year results on 11 May 2011.

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