Morrison beats rivals with festive sales boost

SUPERMARKET chain Morrison posted the biggest rise in Christmas sales among Britain's top four grocers – but urged caution about 2010.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 6.5 per cent, excluding petrol and VAT, in the six weeks to 3 January.

Total revenue rose by 10.8 per cent for the period.

Morrison, which runs 422 stores, said its fresh, value and party ranges had been a significant contributor to growth.

Sales of mince pies rose 36 per cent while overall sales of party foods were up 90 per cent on last year.

Chairman Sir Ian Gibson said: "Morrisons has had another strong Christmas. Once again our distinctive offer, eye-catching promotions and relentless focus on our core strengths of fresh food and great value combined to help customers have a great Christmas.

"This has enabled Morrisons to finish the year strongly and although we remain cautious on the economic environment and consumer spending, we look forward to further progress in the coming year."

Morrisons’ performance is the strongest of the big four grocery retailers, although all did well in December as shoppers splashed out on festive fare.

Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, enjoyed its best Christmas in three years, pulling in shoppers shoppers with the offer of extra Clubcard points. Sales in its UK chain grew by 4.9 per cent.

Sainsbury’s, Britain's third-largest food stores chain, also beat City forecasts, reporting a 4.2 per cent rise in like-for-like sales.

The Waitrose chain, Britain's fastest-growing food retailer, also saw its biggest sales and market share gains since 2005.