Tesco is budgeting for like-for-like growth of only 2 per cent at its core UK business in contrast to the 3 to 4 per cent it has traditionally targeted.

Shore Capital analyst Clive Black, who revealed the reduced expectations following a meeting with Tesco management, said: “Such budgeting is a significant change to our minds and indicates the seriousness of the slowdown and its likely duration.”

Black retained his buy stance. Tight cash management, international spread and the potential of Tesco’s services business – including telecoms and Tesco Personal Finance – should make the retailer resilient, he said.

Tesco also remains popular with Bernstein, which rates it outperform. Analyst Chris Hogbin said: “Tesco’s launch of its discount brands range highlights the potential to keep customers.

“This is a good example of the capabilities that will position it well in a severe downturn.”