Tesco’s underlying sales are expected to fall in the first quarter, as chief executive Philip Clarke continues to drive his £1bn investment to help repair the business.
According to the Financial Times, City analysts are forecasting a decline in like-for-like sales from Tesco UK stores when it posts its first update of the year on June 11.
Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said he expected a decline in UK like-for-likes of 1-2% year-on-year, excluding fuel and VAT. With inflation of 2.5%, the volume of goods sold would be down 3-4%.
Credit Suisse analyst Andrew Kasoulis forecasted a 1.5% decline.
Black believes the forecast is in line with expectations as Clarke has just begun his plans to boost Tesco’s performance by introducing more staff into supermarkets, refreshing stores and introducing improved ready meals.
The first quarter forecasts come after Tesco revealed a 1.6% fall in UK like-for-likes in the fourth to the end of February. Over Christmans and the New Year, Tesco revealed a 2.3% – the grocer’s worst performance for decades.
“We would not be expecting Tesco to be doing anything other than performing in line with the fourth quarter, slightly underperforming the industry,” said Black. “I think that is part of the plan.”
Tough comparatives against the same time last year, such as the May bank holiday not being included this year and the positive impact of the Royal Wedding and Easter last year, as well as the wet weather this year are all expected to ease sales.
“While we think there probably has been some underlying sales improvement aided by the very high level of money-off coupons, we think April was weak [impacted by the weather] and the calendar will not unwind until the second quarter,” said Kasoulis in a note.