Tesco reports best Christmas in 10 years

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Tesco says trading in the six weeks to Christmas was "strong".

The company said like-for-like sales, which strip out the impact of new stores, were up 2.2% at its UK supermarkets.

The figures put it ahead of the competition and are its own personal best since Christmas 2009.

Sales at the wholesaler Booker, which Tesco bought in 2017, rose 6.7% over the six-week period.

Tesco's figures were released along with its third-quarter trading update. This showed sales up 1.6%, 1.2% in the UK and its 12th consecutive quarter of growth.

The figures beat the rest of the market in all categories: food, clothing and general merchandise.

It said promotions on fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as on lamb and beef joints, helped drive sales.

Tesco was among several retailers to release trading updates.

  • Debenhams reported a fall in sales during the crucial Christmas trading period. In a "volatile" environment with customers seeking discounts, Debenhams reported a 5.7% fall in like-for-like sales in the 18 weeks to 5 January.
  • Marks & Spencer saw its sales drop over the Christmas holiday period. Like-for-like sales, which strip out the impact of new stores, were down 2.2% in the 13 weeks to 29 December. Food sales fell 2.1% and its clothing and home sales division slid 2.4%.
  • John Lewis said sales in the seven-week Christmas period were 1.4% higher than for the same period last year. However, that may not be enough to secure a bonus for its staff this year, the firm added.

Tesco's chief executive, Dave Lewis, said: "As a team, we have achieved a lot in the last 19 weeks. In the UK, we delivered significant improvements in our competitive offer and this is reflected in a very strong Christmas performance, which was ahead of the market."

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers, said: "It looks like Christmas delivered the goods for Tesco. Another increase in like-for-like sales proves it can hold its own, even as competition hots up.

"These are promising results from Tesco, but time will tell if it has enough puff left to keep outrunning its rivals."

Most of its rivals have already released their figures.

Waitrose's figures were released on Thursday and showed like-for-like sales growth of 0.3%, for the seven weeks to Christmas.

Morrisons reported UK in-store sales up by 0,6%.

Sainsbury's, which is attempting to merge with Asda, said on Wednesday that sales had actually fallen by 1.1% in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Aldi said its sales had risen by 10% in December, although it does not give same-store sales figures. As it added more than 8% in floor space last year, some of its sales growth is simply accounted for by its expansion.

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