• Argos like-for-likes rise 4.3% as technology performs well
  • Sainsbury’s like-for-likes slip 0.5%
  • Late Easter hits Sainsbury’s general merchandise sales

Grocery and general merchandise giant Sainsbury’s generated a like-for-like sales rise of 0.3% in the fourth quarter, including the contribution from Argos.

Argos outperformed Sainsbury’s in the nine weeks to March 11.

While like-for-likes, excluding fuel, slipped 0.5% at Sainsbury’s, Argos generated a 4.3% uplift.

Sainsbury’s online grocery sales grew by 7% in the quarter.

The convenience division also recorded total sales growth of 7%, while sales of fashion brand Tu climbed by 5%.

Sales at Sainsbury’s of general merchandise goods were held back by the late timing of Mother’s Day and Easter.

Sainsbury’s group chief executive Mike Coupe said that the grocer had continued to move towards “lower regular prices” during the period, and promotions and costs were both reduced.

At Argos, there was “strong sales growth in technology categories, with particularly good contributions from mobile phones, video gaming, wearable tech and sports equipment”.

Another 11 Argos Digital stores opened in Sainsbury’s supermarkets, bringing the total to 41. One Mini Habitat opening store in a Sainsbury’s supermarket brought the total such outlets to eight.

Coupe said: “We are pleased with this performance and are making good progress against our key priorities. Customers appreciate the quality, choice and value of our differentiated food offer.

“Argos delivered another strong quarter of growth. We are investing in digital to deliver excellent service and availability, with enhancements to the Argos website and app.

“Online participation is growing, driven by mobile and ’Fast track’ delivery and customers are responding well to new ranges.

“The market remains very competitive and the impact of cost price pressures remains uncertain.

“However, we are well placed to navigate the external environment and remain focused on delivering our strategy.”