Morrisons like for like sales up 3.7 per cent over Xmas

Morrisons like for like sales up 3.7 per cent over Xmas

In the 10 weeks to January 7 the group saw like-for-like sales jump 2.8 per cent, driven by a 2.1 per cent boost in its retail arm.

The Bradford-based firm reported a 2.8 per cent increase in like-for-like retail sales over the six weeks to January 7 and said it managed to keep prices level with a year ago despite soaring inflation. We are entering the third consecutive year of positive growth.

Morrisons enjoyed the fruits of its turnaround strategy over Christmas with "another period of positive like-for-like sales".

Morrisons said it had become more competitive despite the increase in its buying costs - which have risen for many United Kingdom businesses after the collapse in the pound following the Brexit vote made imports more expensive.

"More and more customers found more things they wanted to buy at competitive prices at Morrisons this Christmas", chief executive David Potts who has led Morrisons turnaround by investing in price cuts.

Retail sales, including in stores and online, but excluding fuel, were up 2.1% for the ten weeks to 7 January.

Figures from the BRC also out on Tuesday showed United Kingdom retailers saw a 0.6% like-for-like sales rise in December but the report highlighted how the "severe pressure" on spending was weighing heavily on some firms much more than others. "Our "Best" range hit the spot".

"The hard work and friendliness of our colleagues continues to be key in delivering our strengthening performance, and I would like to thank them for everything they do for our customers".

It has also expanded its premium "Best" range of goods.

Industry data shows that food price inflation rose around 3 per cent by the end of the year.

Online sales were also up more than 10 per cent.

Mr Potts said that after three years in a row of sales growth, the group is now "open for business for new stores" and plans to open a "handful" of new supermarkets a year, with around one or two set for 2018.

"Morrison's wholesale activities are also becoming more significant with a deal to supply the McColl's convenience store chain, which will see the renaissance of the Safeway brand later this month".

Morrisons has been gifted a welcome present over the Christmas period in the form of a solid boost to sales, though it has kept its profit forecasts the same.

After some successful trials, the previously announced agreement to start supplying all 1,650 McColl's stores with both Safeway products and national brands will begin this month. Credit must go to management for keeping prices stable during Christmas despite the weaker pound creating higher input costs.

Shares in the Bradford-based retailer rose after it reported a better-than-expected performance over the festive period.

Retail analyst Clive Black at Shore Capital said the update proved Morrisons is in "good shape", while Bruno Monteyne at Bernstein said it was a "good start" to the sector's festive updates.

Tesco (Frankfurt: 852647 - news) and Sainsbury (Amsterdam: SJ6.AS - news) 's are due to report later in the week.

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