Sainsbury's Reveals Record-Breaking Xmas

Supermarket chain Sainsbury's has revealed a record-breaking Christmas trading period, with total sales (excluding fuel) up 3.3% in the third quarter.

The retailer, which sits in third position behind Tesco and Asda, said Christmas was the 32nd consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth.

It said stores open over a year saw sales rise 0.9% (excluding fuel), in the 14 weeks to January 5.

Sainsbury's said it served a record number of customers over the festive period, with the week before December 25 its busiest ever.

£16m of sales were achieved in one hour alone, between 12pm and 1pm on Sunday, December 23.

In total it said rang up more than £100m in sales on Christmas Eve.

However sales growth slowed on the 1.9% reported the previous quarter and against last year's 2.1% rise over the Christmas period.

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

Sainsbury's was the only one of the so-called big four players to increase its market share in the run up to Christmas, to 17.1% from 17% a year earlier, while Morrisons saw its share slip to 12%, according to 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".

Meanwhile, it saw its online business grow by over 15% in the three months and small electricals grew by 25%.

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