Tesco reports falling sales over key Christmas period

9th January 2014, Comments 0 comments

Supermarket Tesco said on Thursday that group sales slid around the all-important Christmas trading period, dealing a fresh blow to Britain's biggest retailer.

Tesco said sales at stores open more than a year dropped by 3.2 percent in the six weeks to January 4 from the figure for the equivalent period one year earlier, as it continued to suffer from tough conditions at home and abroad.

Sales across all of its stores dropped 1.6 percent in the reporting period, the company said in a trading statement.

Tesco added that it expected annual trading profit to come in lower compared with 2012/13.

Chief executive Philip Clarke noted that "further weakness in the grocery market as a whole continued to impact" Tesco's performance in its main market Britain.

"Our overseas performance has improved since the third quarter, driven by an improving trend in Europe. This is despite continuing external challenges, including the recent political disruption in Thailand," he added.

The results come one day after the second-biggest supermarket group in Britain, Sainsbury's, announced mixed quarterly sales as a tough autumn gave way to a record Christmas period, highlighting shoppers' tightening of budgets amid austerity.

While British economic growth is on the rise, government cutbacks continue to bite, forcing many Britons to tighten their belts.

Finance minister George Osborne warned on Monday that the country had to find an extra £25 billion ($41 billion, 30 billion euros) of cuts after next year's general election.

Tesco added on Thursday: "Reflecting our continued investment for customers in challenging conditions for the UK market as a whole, we now expect to report full year results within the range of current market expectations."

This is a range of between £3.157 billion and £3.416 billion -- which at the top end is lower compared with 2012/13.

Britain's largest supermarkets are meanwhile faced with increasing competition discount rivals Aldi and Lidl.

© 2014 AFP

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