Sainsbury's sales beat Christmas forecasts

 
City A.M. Reporter
Strong sales of premium groceries and non-food ranges like clothing helped J Sainsbury to report a rise in Christmas sales which analysts expect will be the best among the top four grocers.

Britain's third-biggest supermarket group, which trails market leader Tesco and Wal-Mart's Asda in terms of annual sales, said on Wednesday sales at stores open over a year rose 3.6 percent, excluding fuel but including VAT sales tax, in the 14 weeks to 8 January, its fiscal third quarter.

That was up from a 2.9 per cent increase in the second quarter and compared with the average forecast rise of 3.4 per cent in a Reuters poll of 15 analysts.

"The business continues to perform well in a challenging consumer environment, as customers are faced with fuel and VAT increases, combined with uncertain employment prospects," Sainsbury's said.