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Tesco festive winner following record Christmas sales

The supermarket had a steep rise in sales while Marks and Spencer reported 'mixed' results.

Tesco said it has outperformed over the festive period.
Tesco said it has outperformed over the festive period. PA

Supermarket giant Tesco has emerged as a festive winner of the Big Four, reporting a steep rise in sales over the Christmas trading period.

Other retailers Waitrose and John Lewis also reported an increase over the critical trading period but Marks and Spencer reported "mixed" results with disappointing clothing and food sales.

Tesco said UK like-for-like seasonal sales rose by 1.9% with "record sales and volumes" in the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day.

This helped Tesco notch up a 2.3% rise in third quarter comparable sales.

The retailer saw its biggest ever sales week in the UK over Christmas, with 58 million customer transactions and 770,000 online grocery deliveries in one week.

Chief executive Dave Lewis said: "We have continued to outperform the market throughout this period, particularly in fresh food.

"Our trading momentum accelerated across the third quarter and into December, with the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day delivering record sales and volumes in the UK."

John Lewis reported like-for-like growth
John Lewis reported like-for-like growth

Tesco's update is the latest from the so called Big Four supermarkets, which also includes Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons.

Morrisons reported strong figures on Tuesday, while Sainsbury's posted a mixed set of results on Wednesday.

John Lewis reported gross sales up 2.5% for the six weeks to December 30, while its sister company Waitrose booked a comparable sales rise of 1.4%.

However, Marks & Spencer also revealed "mixed" festive trading blaming a tough October for a 2.8% fall in like-for-like clothing and home sales over the 13 weeks to December 30.

It said "ongoing under-performance" in its food arm saw sales fall 0.4%.

Shares fell more than 2% after its update.

Marks and Spencer experienced disappointing clothing and food sales.
Marks and Spencer experienced disappointing clothing and food sales. PA

Steve Rowe, chief executive, said: "M&S had a mixed quarter with better Christmas trading in both businesses going some way to offset a weak clothing market in October and ongoing under-performance in our food like-for-like sales."

The declines reported were still not as steep as some feared after profit warnings from the likes of Debenhams, Moss Bros and Mothercare.

Meanwhile Sainsbury's upgraded its full-year profit forecast on Tuesday following a record Christmas of a 1.1% increase in like-for-like sales, but it warned of a challenging market amid weaker sales at Argos.

Supermarkets are battling rising costs linked to the Brexit-hit pound, falling consumer confidence and fierce competition in the sector as Lidl and Aldi continue their relentless march.

Lidl has claimed it was the "fastest growing supermarket" over Christmas after booking record festive sales.

The German chain said sales rose 16% in December as it experienced its highest ever footfall.

However, it did not give a breakdown of like-for-like sales, again ignoring an industry benchmark used by its peers.

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