UK supermarket group Sainsbury’s experienced record sales over the Christmas period with the biggest week, day and hour for trading ever during the recent festivities, quarterly results released today reveal.
Total sales including fuel grew seven per cent in the 14 weeks to January 7th 2012, and on a like-for-like (LFL) basis once fuel had been excluded this equated to a 2.1 per cent rise compared to the same period last year.
According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel data Sainsbury’s increased its share of the domestic grocery market in the lead-up to Christmas, and despite the heavy discounting which occurred across the sector during the period, the decent sales increase recorded during a difficult period represents a resilient performance.
Justin King, CEO of Sainsbury’s, commented: “This was a strong quarter, rounded off by our best Christmas ever, despite the economic backdrop.
“There were 26 million customer transactions in the Christmas week, 1.5 million more than last year. Like-for-like sales excluding fuel were up 2.1 per cent, which was on top of a market-beating Christmas in 2010, giving two-year like-for-like growth of 5.7 per cent.”
King noted a positive consumer reaction to the latest Live Well for Less range in grocery and for Gok Wan’s latest clothing line for the TU brand.
Over 600,000 sq ft of new store space was added during the quarter, including the group’s 1,000th store in Irvine, Scotland and 21 new convenience outlets.
Online sales grew 20 per cent year-on-year with click & collect services proving increasingly important to this offer, representing 75 per cent of general merchandise orders over Christmas.
King added: “Consistent with trends over the past year, we expect customers to spend cautiously in 2012, particularly in the first few months as they tighten their belts post Christmas.
“Although the short term remains challenging, key events later in the year, such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, provide opportunities for growth.”