Waitrose enjoys record Christmas sales

The company, owned by the John Lewis Partnership, said like-for-like sales rose 5.4pc between December 18 and December 31.

This sent total sales during the period through £300m for the first time. It comes after Waitrose reported like-for-like sales growth of 4.3pc for the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve.

The growth of Waitrose is likely to sharply outstrip that of Tesco, Asda, J Sainsbury and Wm Morrison, the country’s biggest supermarkets.

Waitrose has a market share of 4.5pc in the UK, still far below the 30.7pc for Tesco.

The grocer opened 18 new shops last year, including eight convenience stores, taking its total to 288.

Mark Price, managing director of Waitrose, said sales of fresh food, champagne, and party food particularly accelerated over Christmas for the company.

He added: “Our sales for the festive period as a whole have been record-breaking but the 12 trading days leading up to New Year’s Eve were exceptional as customers got ready for family entertaining and parties.

“The combination of our inspiring celebratory food and drink together with great value and offers proved to be a winning combination.”

Morrisons will be the first of the listed supermarkets to reveal its Christmas trading figures next week, with analysts predicting that like-for-like sales could be down by more than 2.5pc.

Philip Dorgan, analyst at Panmure Gordon, said the Bradford-based retailer could be forced to issue a profits warning.

He added: “Whether there is a profit warning accompanying Monday’s trading statement is a moot point.

“We do, however, see further downside to consensus profits, given the likely continued sales underperformance and we believe that management would be best advised to realign expectations.

“This would enable it to focus on fixing its business, rather than defending an unsustainable level of profit, which would only result in its problems compounding.”

Last January, Tesco issued a profits warning after disappointing Christmas trading.

However, analyst at Deutsche Bank expect the retailer to post like-for-like sales growth of 0.8pc in the UK for this Christmas as its recovery from the profits warning gathers pace.


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