Sainsbury’s sales slide in run up to Christmas

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Sainsbury posted sliding third-quarter sales
Sainsbury posted sliding third-quarter sales

Related tags Retailing

Sainsbury has reported sliding sales in the three months to January 9, with like-for-like sales down by 0.4%, despite a Christmas boost in customer transactions.

Total retail sales were 0.8% up, excluding fuel, during the 15 weeks to January 9 2016. The retailer claimed more than 30M customer transactions in the seven days before Christmas – a rise of 2.6%  year-on-year.

Sainsbury chief executive Mike Coupe said the retailer traded well during the festive period in “a highly competitive” ​market.

“Our stores delivered excellent levels of service and availability and we launched several new seasonal products and range improvements. As a result we have seen our market share grow in the quarter,” ​he said.

‘Sainsbury’s was the best performing’

Market analyst Kantar confirmed yesterday (January 12): ​Once again, Sainsbury’s was the best performing​ of the traditional supermarkets. 

​Its premium Taste the Difference brand posted its biggest ever Christmas sales and promotional efforts were concentrated on simple price cuts rather than complicated multi-buy deals. This helped attract an additional 114,000 shoppers, with sales increasing by 0.8% on last year.​  

Coupe confirmed  the retailer launched its Taste the Difference wines in time for Christmas, which were well received and contributed to sales growth of more 18% across the range.

“Our programme to invest in the quality of over 3,000 products remains on track,”​ he said.

Lower regular pricing

The Sainsbury boss revealed acut in vouchering and promotional participation year-on-year. Multi-buys were also reduced in favour of lower regular prices, continuing the retailer’s commitment to simplify prices and promotions, he added.

“Our continued investment in quality, price and service drove like-for-like transaction and volume growth year-on-year.”

During the quarter, 16 convenience stores were opened and groceries online sales reportedly grew at nearly 10% and orders by 15%. “We had a record week in the quarter, delivering over 289,000 online orders,” ​said Coupe. The retailer now operated 101 Click and Collect sites nationwide.

Based on what the retailer described as ​good performance in this quarter​, Sainsbury expected like-for-like sales in the second half of the year to be better than the first.

​Food deflation and pressures on pricing will ensure that the market remains challenging for the foreseeable future,​said Coupe. “We will continue to remain competitive on price and our performance this quarter provides further evidence that our strategy is working.”

Sainsbury’s results – at a glance

  • Like-for-like sales fell 0.4%
  • Total retail up 0.8%

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