Sainsbury's halts sales slide over festive period

Sainsbury's raised £500,000 for Great Ormond Street hospital with its Christmas campaign
Sainsbury's raised £500,000 for Great Ormond Street hospital with its Christmas campaign

Sainsbury's ended a run of falling sales during the festive trading period as the grocer's Christmas ad campaign raised over £500,000 for the Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Like-for-like sales only edged up 0.1% for the 15 weeks to 7 January after a blockbuster marketing campaign from the brand starring James Corden, which represented the swansong of long-standing ad agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

The uptick in like-for-like sales follows two consecutive quarters of falling sales.

In August Sainsbury’s ended its 35-year relationship with AMV BBDO by moving its £60m ad account into Wieden & Kennedy. 

Last year the grocer also reported flat sales over Christmas, but made special reference to the "huge success" of its Mog’s Christmas Calamity ad

Sainsbury's report comes the day after Morrisons said it had its best Christmas in seven years as its like-for-like sales jumped 5.2%.

Like-for-like sales at Sainsbury’s-owned Argos increased by 4% during the 15 weeks ending 7 January.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe said: "We had a record Christmas week, with over 30 million customer transactions at Sainsbury’s and over £1bn of sales across the group.

"Our groceries online and convenience channels performed well, achieving over 9% and 6% sales growth respectively and at Argos we saw record levels of online participation."

Strong growth at Argos was driven by the key Black Friday and Christmas trading periods, and Sainsbury’s reports its Argos digital stores in Sainsbury’s supermarkets are "performing well as awareness of the convenience of shopping at both Sainsbury’s and Argos under one roof grows among our customers".  

However, Coupe has warned that the market remains "competitive and the impact of the devaluation of sterling remains uncertain".

Phil Dorrell, partner at retail consultants Retail Remedy, said: "Sainsbury's all but flat Christmas is only overshadowed by what is expected from Asda. ‘Not as bad as it could have been’ is not a strong position to be in. 

"Sainsburys may now be regretting their decision to virtually eliminate multibuy promotions, proving too aggressive on the sales line at this high-volume and highly competitive time of year."

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