Asda has reported a like-for-like sales hike of 6.4 per cent for the first quarter of 2008, which it attributes to increased customer footfall driven by lower prices and seasonal holidays.

The grocer said that the early Easter holiday and an extra, leap day on February 29, bolstered sales, excluding petrol, between January 1 and March 31 and that business would have increased 5 per cent without the holidays.

This is the first time that Asda has disclosed like-for-like figures since it was acquired by US supermarket giant Wal-Mart in 1999.

Asda also experienced an increase in demand for its Extra Special premium own-label range, with sales up 30 per cent year on year. Asda opened three stores in the first quarter – in Bridgend, Andover and Ballyclare – all of which outperformed sales targets.

The store group said it outperformed the rest of the market for an eighth consecutive quarter, with market share up 0.3 per cent year on year in the 12 weeks to April 20. It added that sales for April were “healthy”, particularly in fresh food.

Asda president and chief executive Andy Bond said: “While today’s results are encouraging, we mustn’t become complacent – especially in the current economic climate. We have a duty to lock down inflation by working with our suppliers, to cut costs to ensure that our customers are always getting the best possible deal on their weekly shopping.”

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