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Tesco celebrates but M&S loses its sparkle

TESCO unveiled its best Christmas trading figures in nearly a decade.

The supermarket posted a 2.2 per cent rise in UK like-for-like sales in the six weeks to January 5, outperforming the wider market in food, clothing and general merchandise. It was its best UK festive performance since 2009.

Tesco said that its Festive 5 Christmas vegetable offer was particularly popular, selling 19.7 million units. For the third quarter as a whole, Tesco recorded sales growth of 0.7 per cent, down from 2.5 per cent the previous three months.

Chief executive Dave Lewis (pictured) hailed ‘a very strong Christmas performance which was ahead of the market’.

Other retailers fared less well in the sector’s worst December since the financial crisis.

The annual bonus for John Lewis staff is under threat for the first time since 1953 after chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield warned profits will be ‘substantially lower’ this year. Over Christmas, the department store booked like-for-like sales growth of one per cent while sister chain Waitrose saw only 0.3 per cent growth.

Sir Charlie told the BBC the board would decide in March whether it would be ‘prudent’ to pay a bonus to 83,000 staff, known as partners.

At Marks & Spencer, sales were also under pressure. Like-for-like clothing and home sales dropped 2.4 per cent over the 13 weeks to December 29 while food was down 2.1 per cent.

There was a sharper fall at Debenhams, where like-for-life sales declined 3.4 per cent in the six weeks to January 5.