Slowdown in sales growth at Sainsbury’s

SAINSBURY’S said yesterday that its sales growth was slowing with fears over the economy draining consumer confidence.

Chief executive Justin King said that the company was performing well considering the challenges facing retailers.

Like-for-like sales for the fourth-quarter were up by one per cent, below market expectations, and against growth of 3.6 per cent in the previous quarter.

Like-for-like sales in the full-year to 19 March, excluding fuel, were up 2.3 per cent.

King said that there had been an almost overnight change in the way people shopped, with customers typically buying one item less on their weekly visit to a supermarket.

He said that although that figure seemed insignificant it represented a massive change.

“These changes usually take years but this has happened overnight.”

In an overview of the economy he warned: “I do not see that customer sentiment will change in the near future.” King said that fuel rises had taken a heavy toll on customers who were trying to rein in their spending.

Meanwhile sales of non-food items are still growing at three times the rate of food, the UK’s third-largest supermarket chain said.

The sales slowdown follows a strong Christmas.