Tesco has posted an uptick in first-quarter sales but cautioned that growth “moderated” during April and May as Covid-19 restrictions eased.

The supermarket giant said retail sales across the group increased 1% on a like-for-like basis during the 13 weeks to May 29. On a two-year basis, like for likes jumped 8.1% as total sales hit £13.4bn.

Customer observing social distancing in Tesco store

Sales growth ‘moderated’ after non-essential stores reopened on April 12

In its core UK and Republic of Ireland business, like-for-like sales climbed 1.3% year on year and 8.7% on a two-year basis. Sales in its domestic market came to £12.4bn. 

In Central Europe, Tesco’s only remaining market outside of the UK, like-for-like sales slipped 1.6% year on year but were up 1.5% compared to 2019 levels.

Tesco said its UK division grew like-for-like sales 9.3% on a two-year basis during the period driven by the “retained benefit of customers consuming more meals at home” compared to before the pandemic.

It said sales growth peaked at 14.6% in March but “moderated” after non-essential retailers reopened on April 12.  

The grocer hailed “particularly strong” sales in general merchandise and clothing, which rose 10.3% and 52.1% respectively year on year. 

Online demand in the UK persisted at 1.3 million orders per week with ecommerce sales surging 81.6% on a two-year basis.  

Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy said: “We delivered a strong performance in the first quarter, even as we lapped the high demand of last year due to the pandemic. We have further strengthened our commitment to delivering consistent, reliable value and to rewarding loyalty, as we extended Clubcard Prices to all Express stores.

“We remain focused on delivering great value, increasing loyalty and further developing our digital platform so we can serve our customers when, how and where they want.”

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