Sainsbury’s sees retail sales fall 1.1% over Christmas

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Sainsbury’s has seen gross sales fall over Christmas after non-food buying and selling was hit by shopper warning.

Like-for-like retail gross sales, which exclude gross sales from new shops, fell by 1.1% throughout the Christmas interval.

Basic merchandise gross sales, together with at Sainsbury’s-owned Argos, fell by 2.three% and general clothes gross sales by zero.2%.

Chief government Mike Coupe stated: “Retail markets are extremely aggressive and really promotional and the patron outlook continues to be unsure.”

Toy gross sales hit

He added: “Basic merchandise gross sales grew strongly over the important thing Christmas weeks and outperformed the market over the quarter.

“Gross sales declined within the quarter as a consequence of cautious buyer spending and our resolution to cut back promotional exercise throughout Black Friday. Clothes carried out properly, with robust full-price gross sales progress in a tricky market.”

Mr Coupe stated gross sales objects and toys have been among the many worst-hit at its Argos enterprise, with toys seeing double-digit falls, largely all the way down to its transfer to carry off from Black Friday discounting.

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Media captionCustomers in Nottingham reveal whether or not they spent roughly this Christmas

He stated buyers additionally reduce on their spending on meals over Christmas, with slower gross sales progress for the premium Style the Distinction vary.

Nevertheless, the grocery store big stated within the 15 weeks to 9 January, grocery gross sales grew by zero.four%, with groceries on-line and in comfort shops up by 6% and three%.

Sainsbury’s shares have been down zero.7% after the buying and selling replace.

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Evaluation by Right now enterprise presenter Dominic O’Connell

Pundits had anticipated Sainsbury’s to have the weakest Christmas numbers of the massive 4 grocery chains.

They have been proper – however for the flawed causes. Sainsbury’s core grocery enterprise did fairly properly given the fierce competitors from the mainstream rivals Tesco, Morrisons and Asda, and the additional squeeze from the German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl.

The weak point got here in so-called normal merchandise, which incorporates Argos, which Sainsbury’s purchased two years in the past.

The issue, Sainsbury’s stated, was not Christmas buying and selling, however Black Friday.

It selected to not comply with rivals’ fierce discounting and gross sales suffered accordingly.

Whereas this rationalization is undoubtedly right, it is not going to impress traders, who will level out that Argos was meant to supply diversification away from the super-competitive grocery market, and that complaining about discounting on Black Friday is like complaining about chilly climate in January.

All this week’s buying and selling updates present solely gross sales. We is not going to know the true winners – which retailers turned these gross sales into income – till later within the yr, in Sainsbury’s case within the full-year ends in Might.

‘Combined bag’

The third-quarter retail gross sales determine was worse than analysts had anticipated, having predicted a zero.2% decline.

Retail analyst Teresa Wickham instructed BBC Radio four’s Right now programme: “It’s a combined bag. Christmas has clearly been troublesome for them.”

She stated Sainsbury’s had needed to make troublesome selections about how far it ought to go down the promotional route with a purpose to compete with Aldi and Lidl.

However she added that the UK’s second-largest grocery chain had a “very helpful property in Argos”, regardless of the autumn in merchandise gross sales.

And Richard Lim, chief government at Retail Economics stated: “These outcomes aren’t disastrous however show the numerous challenges confronted by the massive grocers.”

Sainsbury’s plans to merge with rival Asda, with a verdict on the plan due from the Competitors and Markets Authority (CMA) in February.

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Sainsbury’s prospects reduce on their meals spending throughout the festive interval

Mr Coupe denied that the emphasis on the merger meant Sainsbury’s administration had misplaced course. He stated there have been about 20 folks coping with the merger, however greater than 100,000 members of workers centered on Sainsbury’s prospects.

He stated the agency continued to have constructive talks with the CMA and was assured a merger would “convey decrease costs for customers”.

‘Massively disruptive’

In the meantime, Sainsbury’s, like different UK supermarkets, is getting ready for the likelihood that the UK will depart the EU with out a deal.

Mr Coupe stated a no-deal Brexit can be very difficult for retailers, on condition that UK retailers convey in additional than 30% of their volumes from continental Europe.

“There’s solely a lot contingency planning you are able to do,” he stated. “We’ve 20 distribution centres and each can maintain a couple of week’s price of meals. However it isn’t as if there are one other 20 distribution centres on the market.”

How produce other retailers fared over Christmas?

  • Baker Greggs has seen annual gross sales to January rise by 7.2%, pushed by progress in new classes comparable to vegan-friendly meals. Like-for-like gross sales at company-managed outlets have been up 2.9% throughout the yr, and within the Christmas fourth quarter by 5.2%.
  • Vogue retailer Ted Baker reported increased gross sales within the vacation interval. Within the 5 weeks to five January, they have been up 12.2%. On-line gross sales jumped 18.7% to make up greater than 1 / 4 of retail gross sales.
  • Majestic Wine has stated the Christmas buying and selling interval was more difficult than anticipated, however whole gross sales have been 6.three% increased within the 10 weeks to 31 December, accelerating from the three.2% progress charge seen on the identical time final yr.

Mr Coupe stated loads of the inventory that the agency introduced in from mainland Europe was recent fruit and greens, which might solely be held for brief durations of occasions and never be stockpiled.

“It might be vastly disruptive if there was a no-deal Brexit, and we must handle that on a day-to-day, week-to-week foundation,” he added.

“We do not have the capability to handle multiple week’s price of inventory.”

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