Sainsbury’s rings up record sales

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SUPERMARKET giant Sainsbury’s says it rang up more than £100m in sales on Christmas Eve in a record-breaking festive trading week.

The chain reported like-for-like sales up 0.9 per cent, excluding fuel, in the 14 weeks to January 5 after its strongest ever performance in the week before Christmas, when it also notched up £16m in one hour on Sunday December 23.

Sales growth slowed on the 1.9 per cent reported the previous quarter and against last year’s 2.1 per cent rise over the Christmas period.

But the performance confirms the pressure on smaller rival Morrisons, which disclosed a 2.5 per cent slide in Christmas sales earlier this week.

Sainsbury’s was the only one of the “big four” players to increase its market share in the run up to Christmas, to 17.1 per cent from 17 per cent a year earlier, while Morrisons saw its share slip to 12 per cent, according to data yesterday from Kantar Worldpanel.

Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, said the group delivered good sales growth in “challenging” conditions.

“We expect the challenging economic backdrop to persist, with customers looking to re-balance their household budget after the festivities and so spending cautiously in the first few months of 2013,” he said.

But the group said plans to continue its money-off coupon Brand Match scheme would help ensure it was “positioned to perform well over the next quarter”.