Festive sales rise for 4th year running at Morrisons over "competitive prices"

Supermarket giant Morrisons has revealed its Christmas sales are up for the fourth year in a row despite a change in customer behaivour.

The grocer said its like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, rose 3.6% in the nine weeks to January 6, with retail and wholesale contributing 0.6% and 3% respectively.

Overall, it said total sales were up 4.0% – or 3.6% including fuel.

From today, the retailer will knock up to 2p off a litre of petrol after Asda fired the first shot in a so-called petrol price war on Monday.

It also kicked off a wave of New Year price reductions this week – with up to 20% knocked off around 935 key lines.

The retailer said there was a change in consumer behaviour during the period, however it was able to "perform well, sustaining a strong offer and trading the business hard for customers."

It said it managed to retain its competitive prices, with the price of a basket of key Christmas items the same as December 2017.

Overall, it said customer satisfaction increased significantly.

The strongest areas of improvement were colleague friendliness and checkout experience, which it attributed to the "continued hard work and dedication of food makers and shopkeepers".

"This is Morrisons fourth consecutive Christmas of like for like sales growth during the turnaround," the chain’s chief executive, David Potts, said.

"Our performance shows colleagues are listening hard and responding to customers, providing consistently great value and good quality when it matters most.

"I would once again like to thank the whole Morrisons team for what they continue to do for our customers.

"Morrisons is well set to keep improving the shopping trip and become more and more relevant for more customers".

Emma-Lou Montgomery, at Fidelity Personal Investing, added: "They say for today’s consumers it’s all about experiences, not just accumulating more stuff and it seems Morrisons is doing all it can to give its customers that experience. But tucked away in the Christmas trading update was what really attracted shoppers – not cheery staff and faster checkouts, but last year’s prices.

“Morrisons is playing hard-ball when it comes to giving customers low prices, as it showed with the round of new year price cuts it implemented ahead of this trading update.

“But while Morrisons has held its own, with a 3.6% rise in group sales, that’s a far cry from Aldi’s 10% rise and less.

On Monday, Germain discounter, Aldi reported it hit the £1billion barrier last December after selling more than 17 million bottles of wine, champagne and prosecco and the ongoing success of its ‘luxury’ lines.

“Investors will just hope the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket group isn’t leading the charge in a race to the bottom,” Montgomery added.

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