Tesco follows Morrisons and Sainsbury’s in posting sales growth for Christmas trading period

Tesco has reported a 0.7% rise in like-for-like sales over the festive season.
Photo: Charlotte Bal

Tesco has reported a 0.7% rise in like-for-like sales over the festive season. Photo: Charlotte Ball/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Tesco today emerged as a festive winner in the grocery sector as it reported a 0.7% rise in UK like-for-like sales in the six weeks to January 7.

The UK market leader also notched up a 1.8% increase in third quarter sales, making a year of continuous growth under recovery plans led by chief executive Dave Lewis.

Mr Lewis said in a trading statement: “We are very encouraged by the sustained strong progress that we are making across the group.”

Tesco said its fresh food ranges had proved particularly popular, outperforming the wider market.

The group added that it was on track to deliver an operating profit of at least £1.2bn for the full year, helped by a strategy launched by Mr Lewis when he took over from Philip Clarke in 2014 to slash costs by £1.5bn.

Mr Lewis also said Tesco was working “shoulder to shoulder” with supplies to mitigate the impact on food prices from the fall in the value of the pound since Britain’s vote for Brexit, adding that the group had “seen no change in the pattern” of consumer spending behaviour”.

Across the group, Tesco saw like-for-like sales grow 1.5% in the third quarter and 0.3% over Christmas.

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Its figures follow positive festive trading updates earlier this week from “Big Four” rivals Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, despite continued expansion in the UK by German discounters Aldi and Lidl..

Morrisons reported a stellar 2.9% rise in like-for-like sales for the nine weeks to January 1, its best Christmas for seven years, and while Sainsbury’s posted an increase of just 0.1% for the 15 weeks to January 7 this marked its first quarter of like-for-like growth in a year.

Today, Waitrose, the supermarket arm of the John Lewis Partnership reported a 2.8% increase in like-for-like sales for the six weeks to December 31, and Marks & Spencer said its food halls saw a 0.6% rise in like-for-like in the 13 weeks to December 31.

Data from retail analyst Kantar Worldpanel earlier this week showed the UK grocery sector as a whole enjoying its strongest growth in more than two years although it indicated that Asda, which has yet to deliver a Christmas trading update, was the weakest performer among the “Big Four” over the festive period.