Asda sales down 2.6% over Christmas

Asda has reported a 2.6% fall in like-for-like sales over the crucial Christmas quarter amid fierce

Asda has reported a 2.6% fall in like-for-like sales over the crucial Christmas quarter amid fierce supermarket competition. - Credit: PA

Asda has reported a 2.6% fall in like-for-like sales over the crucial Christmas quarter amid fierce supermarket competition.

Chief executive Andy Clarke blamed rivals chasing unprofitable sales as the figure worsened from a 1.6% decline in the previous quarter.

Asda and major rivals Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons are battling to protect market share from the threat of discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Full-year like-for-like sales at Asda, owned by US giant Walmart, fell 1% - the first full-year fall since 2008. The fourth-quarter figures covered the 12 weeks to January 4.

Mr Clarke said it was a “solid performance in a tough market” and 2015 would be a “very challenging year”.

He said of the figures: “This undoubtedly reflects a very competitive market where retailers took a decision to drive unprofitable sales.

“From our perspective, I am very confident of continuing to drive our strategy for the medium to long term on the basis of revenue and the appropriate level of return.”

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Mr Clarke said the last quarter had seen an “unsustainable” surge in vouchering and promotions from rivals, accusing them of effectively printing £10 notes.