SAINSBURY’S yesterday hailed “a record-breaking Christmas” despite suffering its weakest growth in seven years as the grocer market battles with squeezed household income and cut throat competition.
Chief executive Justin King pointed to a 32nd consecutive quarter of like-for-like growth, with sales at stores open a year up 0.9 per cent, excluding fuel in the 14 weeks to 5 January.
However, this is significantly behind the 2.1 per cent reported in the same period last year and the 1.9 per cent reported in the previous quarter.
“Though it feels like quite a small number, relative to what is being achieved across the market it is a good figure. It represents a good performance in a challenging market,” King said.
He added that the figure was achieved against tough comparatives on last Christmas and pointed out that Sainsbury’s was the only supermarket to grow its market share in the two weeks to 23 December, according to Kantar data.
The retailer said non-food grew faster than food in the third quarter, with clothing up 10 per cent year-on-year, small electricals, such as toasters and kettles, growing at over 24 per cent year-on-year.
Own-brand product sales grew at three times the rate of branded goods as shoppers looked to cut down the spending, with sales of champagne and prosecco up over 15 per cent.
King said multi channel was the key story over Christmas, with online sales up 15 per cent and convenience store growth up 17 per cent.
Sales of own-brand champagne and prosecco grew at over 15 per cent year-on-year.