Tesco is festive victor reporting record Christmas sales

Sales were up at the supermarket chain over Christmas but the markets had expected stronger growth

One drawback was general merchandise, of which United Kingdom like-for-like sales fell 0.6% in the period as Tesco continued to de-emphasise some categories.

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

The retailer's performance was in contrast to a 1.9 per cent rise in like-for-like...

Rivals Sainsbury's, Britain's second largest supermarket group, and fourth-ranked Morrisons, both beat forecasts for Christmas trading.

Retail giant Marks & Spencer has revealed "mixed" festive trading in the United Kingdom after another steep fall in sales in its embattled clothing arm and disappointing trading in its food halls.

Looking ahead, the Group said it is confident in the outlook for the full year and is firmly on track to deliver the medium-term ambitions outlined in October 2016.

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Food sales grew by 3.4 percent, and fresh food specifically by 3.7 percent in the six weeks before Christmas, he said, but weaker sales in general merchandise were a 0.6 percent drag and the disruption in tobacco supplies took a 0.5 percent toll. Likewise, tobacco sales fell 0.5% in the period after challenges involving wholesaler Palmer & Harvey, leading to lost tobacco sales.

Broker Bernstein said Tesco's like-for-like food numbers were "very strong", but its Christmas could disappoint due to tobacco and general merchandise. In the United Kingdom, sales grew 2.3% on year, the company added.

In the 13 weeks to November 26, Tesco's third quarter, UK & Ireland like-for-like sales grew 2.3%, with the UK up 2.3% and Ireland up 3.3%.

Shares fell more than 2% after its update.

Chief executive Dave Lewis said the business had again worked with suppliers to try and limit the impact of higher costs on shoppers. "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 United Kingdom", said Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis.

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