Sains­bury’s suf­fers a sea­sonal hang­over

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - Ros Snow­don CITY ED­I­TOR @RosSnow­donYPN

Sains­bury’s has warned of an “un­cer­tain” con­sumer out­look as it an­nounced a fall in fes­tive sales, say­ing Christ­mas came late as shop­pers held off un­til the last minute.

The su­per­mar­ket giant, which is plan­ning to merge with Asda in a £12bn deal, said like-for-like re­tail sales fell 1.1 per cent in the 15 weeks to Jan­uary 5.

Sains­bury’s said its be­lief that the com­pe­ti­tion reg­u­la­tor would clear its merger with Asda has not di­min­ished since the deal was an­nounced in April.

inset, Chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Coupe, said: “It (con­fi­dence) re­mains ex­actly the same.

“We re­main con­fi­dent in the case we are mak­ing to the CMA (Com­pe­ti­tion and Mar­kets Au­thor­ity).

“In that re­spect noth­ing has changed.”

Sains­bury’s blamed “cau­tious” con­sumer spend­ing for fall­ing sales over its fes­tive quar­ter as its Ar­gos busi­ness also suf­fered af­ter cut­ting back on heavy dis­counts.

Mr Coupe said shop­pers traded down amid a gen­eral pull-back in spend­ing as Brexit un­cer­tainty weighs.

While gro­cery sales rose 0.4 per cent over the quar­ter, Sains­bury’s said this was off­set by a 2.3 per cent fall in gen­eral mer­chan­dise and a 0.2 per cent de­cline in cloth­ing.

It said gen­eral mer­chan­dise sales, in­clud­ing its Ar­gos busi­ness, grew “strongly” over the key Christ­mas weeks, but this was not enough to boost the over­all per­for­mance. Mr Coupe said: “Sales de­clined in the quar­ter due to cau­tious cus­tomer spend­ing and our de­ci­sion to re­duce pro­mo­tional ac­tiv­ity across Black Fri­day.”

He added that con­sumers have be­come “ex­tremely cau­tious about what they spend their money on”, down-trad­ing on their gro­ceries and splash­ing out less on toys and elec­tri­cals over Christ­mas.

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