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Tesco celebrates strongest Christmas sales numbers since 2009 as boss confirms supermarket is stockpiling for Brexit

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 10/01/2019 Jane Denton For Thisismoney

© Getty Britain's biggest supermarket Tesco enjoyed a bumper festive period, with sales up 2.2 per cent from the same time a year ago.

With sales on the up, the supermarket enjoyed its strongest Christmas sales period since 2009.  

The supermarket's 'Festive 5' vegetable offer proved particularly popular with shoppers, selling 19.7million units over the three weeks to Christmas.

Half-price lamb and beef joints helped meat sales grow by 12.2. per over the Christmas period. A deal for a quarter off six bottles of wine also proved popular with shoppers.

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In one week alone, Tesco delivered 51million items for 776,000 orders, helping the company's online like-for-like sales rise by 2.6 per cent over Christmas.

The number of customers using the supermarket's Delivery Saver subscription service increased by 3.8 per cent year-on-year, taking the total to 491,000.

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.'

a close up of a blue background: Busy: In one week alone, Tesco delivered 51million items for 776,000 orders © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Busy: In one week alone, Tesco delivered 51million items for 776,000 orders He added: 'We have more to do everywhere, but remain bang on track to deliver our plans for the year - and as we enter our centenary, we are in a strong position.'

On the subject of Brexit, Mr Lewis said that 'sensible' contingency planning was underway, with the supermarket working with suppliers to stockpile goods.

However, he sounded the alarm bell over fresh food.

'It's hard to contingency for fresh food, where we can't stockpile.

'Like other retailers, we'd be keen that there is no friction at the border given the UK imports half of the fresh food it eats.'

© Getty Between July and September, Tesco recorded comparable UK sales growth of 0.7 per cent, down from 2.5 per cent in the previous three months, but the 12th consecutive period of positive figures nonetheless.

Over the 19 weeks to 5 January, the supermarket saw like-for-like sales grow 1.2 per cent in the UK. 

Tesco said wholesaler Booker, which it snapped up for £4billion last year, was growing strongly. Like-for-like sales at Booker grew by 11 per cent in the third quarter compared to the comparable period one year earlier.

Looking ahead, Tesco said it was 'confident' in the outlook for the full year and remained 'firmly on track to deliver the ambitions that we outlined in October 2016.' 

© Getty FTSE 100 listed Tesco's share price is up 1.98 per cent or 4.15p to 215.95p.

While enjoying strong sales growth over Christmas, Tesco described the overall UK trading environment as 'challenging.' 

The British Retail Consortium said today that last Christmas was the worst in a decade, with overall retail sales flat on last year and even heavy discounting failing to encourage shoppers to spend more. 

Tesco is also battling against competition from German discounters Aldi and Lidl, which according to market research group Kantar Worldpanel were visited by two-thirds of British households in the 12 weeks to 30 December.

a person standing in front of a store: Competition: Tesco is battling against competition from German discounters Aldi and Lidl © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Competition: Tesco is battling against competition from German discounters Aldi and Lidl David Madden, an analyst at CMC Markets, said: 'The rise of Aldi and Lidl are hurting the 'big four' and that is why we have seen merger and acquisition activity in the sector. 

'Sainsbury's are hoping the competition and markets authority will greenlight their planned takeover of Asda, which would put them in first place, should the deal go ahead. 

'Morrisons used its acquisition of McColls to branch into wholesaling, and Sainsbury's did something similar with Booker Group. 

'Tesco have undergone an impressive turnaround under the leadership of Dave Lewis. The German supermarkets are on the march, and the British firms will need to keep innovating in order to keep up.'  

© Getty  Ed Monk, an associate director at Fidelity Personal Investing, said: 'Tesco has started the year on the front foot with festive sales up 2.6%, helping third quarter sales to rise 1.9%. 

'Those numbers are boosted by Bookers - the wholesale division captured last year - but the underlying Tesco supermarket business did grow sales too, by 0.7%

'Lamb and beef joints proved a big hit with shoppers, as did Tesco's 'Festive 5' vegetable offer.

'With the potential merger of rivals Sainsbury's and Asda threatening to dethrone it as the nation's biggest grocer, and German discounters snapping at its heels too, that's good news and further endorsement of the turnaround being enacted by boss Dave Lewis.' 

Out of the Big four supermarkets, Morrisons reported strong figures on Tuesday, while Sainsbury's, which is attempting to merge with Asda, posted a weaker set of figures on Wednesday. 

Related: 15 companies facing a make or break 2019 (Lovemoney)


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