Tesco shares slide despite "outperforming market" with Christmas sales rise

Oliver Gill
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Tesco today delivered "record" Christmas figures (Source: Getty)

Tesco shares fell this morning despite the supermarket saying it had "outperformed" the market over Christmas, with bumper fresh food sales boosting performance.

Shares fell 3.5 per cent in morning trades after Tesco posted total like-for-like sales growth of 1.9 per cent, with food rising 3.4 per cent.

Tesco's fresh food sales outperformed its rivals by almost four per cent, the supermarket said.

"We have continued to outperform the market throughout this period, particularly in fresh food, thanks to our most competitive offer for many years. Our trading momentum accelerated across the third quarter and into December, with the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day delivering record sales and volumes in the UK," said Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis.

Read more: Tesco wins out in battle of the big four for festive sales

Out of the big supermarkets, Tesco had been widely tipped to come out on top during the "golden quarter".

But TCC Global director Bryan Roberts highlighted Tesco hadn't quite beaten its rivals.

“Despite many predictions that Tesco had ‘won’ Christmas, with that accolade instead being shared by Morrisons and the Co-op, the market leader nonetheless enjoyed a very creditable festive period," he said.

"We were impressed by Tesco’s seasonal ranging and merchandising across both food and general merchandise backed up by solid availability and ongoing improvements in customer service and shopper experience."

Tobacco turbulence

Meanwhile, among the good news was a more downbeat tone on tobacco sales. The failure of supplier Palmer & Harvey had dragged on returns.

Lewis continued: "Incorporating Palmer & Harvey volumes and complexity during this peak period was challenging, resulting in lost tobacco sales across December and putting further strain into our distribution network, particularly post-Christmas. Whilst I am pleased to say these challenges have now been resolved, they took the shine off an otherwise outstanding performance for the period as a whole."

Read more: Tesco's £3.7bn takeover of Booker Group cleared by competition watchdog

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