Economy

Retailers post record Christmas sales

Retailers post record Christmas sales

Supermarket Morrisons has posted a 2.9% rise in like-for-like sales over the nine weeks to 1 January, its best performance for seven years.

However, the weaker pound began to make its presence felt in the market, as food prices rose 0.2% in the period, the first increase following two years of deflation.

Sales of beers, wines and spirits saw an +5.7% uplift over the Christmas trading period, putting it behind only confectionery as the biggest driver of festive growth.

Total sales were also up by 2 per cent in the first rise in overall sales since November 2013, despite the fact that Morrisons has been closing some stores.

Morrisons' CEO David Potts said Morrisons made sure more tills were open over Christmas, that it stocked more of what customers wanted to buy, and that availability was improved.

'Morrisons has taken action on pricing and is now more competitive at the tills, which are ringing more often as the impressive growth in transaction numbers shows, ' said George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. This new move has proved to be "very popular".

China's 2016 consumer inflation undershoots government's 3% target
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"Thanks to continued investment in premium own label brands across the major retailers in 2016, such products finished the year with record 12 week sales of nearly one billion pounds", said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at the company. As such, the company are guiding for full year profits to be slightly ahead of previous market expectations.

Mr Watkins attributed the strong performance to supermarkets simplifying their promotional strategies, adding that the percentage of purchases that went on sales/promotional products dropped from 31% last Christmas to 27% this year, the lowest for six years.

Three of the Big 4 have lost out on market share this Christmas period, as the discounters continue to challenge their dominance.

And, despite the popularity of online shopping, supermarkets benefitted from more in-store visits than last Christmas, with consumers wanting to shop around for the best prices and more choice.

Up-market retailer Waitrose's market share rose to 5.3% from 5.2%, and sales climbed 3% to GBP1.46 billion. The retailer also benefitted from the range's 100 new Christmas products.

Supermarket sales grew by 1.8pc over the period as shoppers splashed out over Christmas, according to Kantar.


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