Festive trading is slow for UK supermarkets as sales weaken

 
Kasmira Jefford
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SUPERMARKET grocery sales have slowed in the past four weeks, held back by weak general merchandise sales and the continued squeeze on consumer budgets.

According to the latest data from Nielsen, grocery sales in the four weeks to 8 December rose 1.3 per cent year-on-year. That compared with a two per cent growth in the previous four weeks.

Volumes sales also fell by 0.5 per cent compared to a 0.8 per cent growth in the previous period.

Mike Watkins, head of retailer insight at Nielsen, said: “The sluggish sales figures are partly due to shoppers delaying big shopping trips until the final week before Christmas when fresh foods are also purchased.”

Investec analysts said the performance was “disappointing” and warned the high amount of promotional activity could impact profitability across the sector.

Tesco outperformed peers with sales up 3.6 per cent in the 12 weeks to 8 December, helped by the use of coupons and vouchers and easy comparatives on last year.

M&S increased sales by 1.2 per cent followed by Sainsbury’s up by 1.2 per cent. Morrisons sales trailed behind, falling by 2.2 per cent.