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Tesco Christmas ad blitz delivers record day of food sales

Tesco’s outgoing chief executive has praised the performance of its festive ad campaign, which helped the retailer deliver its fifth consecutive year of sales growth at Christmas.

It saw a 0.1% increase in UK like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 4 January, while third-quarter revenues overall rose 0.4%.

Presenting its results for the critical period, Dave Lewis today (9 January) said its year-long investment into the BBH-created campaign to celebrate its 100-year anniversary culminated in a successful marketing investment into a Christmas execution which resonated with shoppers.

Most of its advertising budget for the period had been allocated to media, versus blockbuster creative, which saw the campaign run across TV, OOH, press, radio, digital, social, and in-store with an equally heavy spend on PR. Its advertising agency also created a bespoke AR Lens with Snapchat, as well as a Facebook arcade game, which allowed customers to go behind the wheel of Tesco delivery vans.

Lewis claimed this ad blitz saw a rise in key measures around perception of quality and value were, as well as improved reports of ease of shop, colleague helpfulness and availability of products in-store.

“I’ve never seen the business running as well as it did at Christmas,” said Lewis, who will exit the company this year.

“This combination helped us outperform the market against a challenging backdrop.”

Despite concerns that people would curb their spending at Christmas as a result of the election and uncertainty around Brexit, the chief executive claimed he had witnessed “nothing discernible” in shopper behaviour since Boris Johnson was elected.

In fact, on the 23 December the retailer sold more food in one day than any other time in its history.

In comparison, Morrisons reported a 1.7% fall in third-quarter sales while Sainsbury’s was also down 0.7%.

Lewis admitted he was particularly pleased with Tesco’s performance given how “subdued” the market is.

According to the British Retail Consortium, retailers in the UK their worst year for Christmas sales since records began.

While it was positive for Tesco in the UK, at a group level it continues to battle falling sales, which were down 0.8% due to tougher trading in central Europe and Asia.

The company is set to sell of its operations in Thailand and Malaysia.

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