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Bad tidings for Sainsbury’s as Christmas sales slide 1.7%


By John Glenday, Reporter

January 7, 2015 | 2 min read

Sainsbury’s has weathered a less than merry Christmas after posting a 1.7 per cent decline in like-for-like retail sales for the 14 weeks to 3 January – down 3.9 per cent of fuel is included.

Despite slipping into the red the numbers aren’t quite as bad as some analysts had feared prompting the retailer to label the period as a ‘good sales performance in a tough market’, particularly through its Taste the Difference brand, online business and convenience stores, which outperformed the company as a whole.

Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s chief executive, said: "The trend of more frequent and local shopping continues and we saw growth of over 16 per cent in our convenience business in the quarter. As well as over six million convenience customer transactions in the week before Christmas, we also saw our largest ever day for convenience sales on 24th December, taking over £8 million. For our groceries online business, this Christmas was our biggest to date. In the three days to 23rd December, our online team delivered more than 110,000 orders.”

Phil Dorrell, director of the retail consultancy Retail Remedy, commented: “Like-for-like sales slump aside, there is a lot Sainsbury's does right. It has smaller stores than its competitors, a strong convenience business, a solid online proposition and some of the best own-label stats in the business. Taste the Difference is really starting to make a difference.

"If it concentrates on these qualities and sticks to the basics in the medium-term, it may well emerge in better shape than many expect.”

Despite grounds for confidence Sainsbury’s concede that the remainder of the financial year will prove ‘challenging’ in the midst of food price deflation.


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