Sainsbury’s has reported a fall in sales over the Christmas quarter, when strong food sales were undermined by a decline in general merchandise.

Sainsbury’s, which also owns Argos, said that total sales, excluding fuel, edged down 0.7%. Like-for-likes were down by the same proportion.

The retailer’s grocery sales rose 0.4%, buoyed by a 7.3% increase in online food revenues. However general merchandise was down 3.9%, despite a 4.4% advance in clothing sales, as the toys and gaming categories suffered. Online sales overall climbed 5%.

Sainsbury’s reported that ”the consumer outlook continues to be uncertain” but the business was ”well placed to navigate the external environment”.

Saisnsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe said:  ”We gave our customers a great combination of quality food at good prices this Christmas and we delivered a standout performance operationally.

”We have a real sense of momentum in Sainsbury’s and investment in our stores and improvements to service and availability have led to our highest customer satisfaction scores of the year.

“Our digital investments are also paying off and over 20% of our business was online in the quarter. Groceries online had record order numbers throughout the Christmas period.

”Argos had its biggest digital Black Friday to date and record sales through mobile and via Argos click-and-collect. 32 million customers shopped with us across Sainsbury’s and Argos in the key Christmas week.”

“The colder weather helped to deliver strong clothing sales in the quarter and our Christmas, party and gifting ranges were all popular with customers. Argos outperformed the market in consumer electronics, but the toy and gaming markets declined year on year.



Sainsbury’s boss Coupe to tackle ailing toys and gaming sales