Tesco’s share of Christmas grocery trade rises to a quarter, highest since 2015

Like-for-like Irish sales up 5.5% for Christmas period

Retailer Tesco said its market share in the Republic hit 24.5 per cent during the key Christmas trading period, its strongest showing in almost a decade.

The supermarket group, which employs more than 13,000 people in Ireland, said rising sales and volume growth helped the retailer gain 73 basis points, up from 23.8 per cent in the same period a year earlier, according to Kantar’s market share readings.

Like-for-like sales rose in Ireland rose 5.5 per cent over the six weeks to January 6th, and were up 8.3 per cent in its third quarter to November 25th. Over the 19 weeks to January 6th, Tesco’s Irish business recorded sales of £1.1 billion (€1.28bn) excluding VAT and fuel, a rise of 7.5 per cent.

“Over the last 19 weeks we saw very strong growth in our fresh food and packaged categories, and over the Christmas period our seasonal lines outperformed expectations,” said Natasha Adams, chief executive of Tesco Ireland. “Our ongoing investment in opening new stores as well as our extensive store refresh programme contributed to growth in key food categories. We also continue to see consistent growth in our online grocery home shopping services year-on-year.”

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Ms Adams said its loyalty Clubcard sales, which provide lower prices for members, continued to perform strongly. The company has also benefited from price-matching campaigns.

The retailer upgraded its group profit outlook for the second time in four months as it reported a better-than-expected rise in underlying sales for the Christmas trading period.

Tesco now expects retail adjusted operating profit, its key profit figure, to hit £2.75 billion in the year to end-February 2024, up from £2.49 billion last year. It had previously forecast £2.6-£2.7 billion.

In the UK like-for-like sales for the six weeks to January 6th rose 6.8 per cent, with a rise of 7.9 per cent in the third quarter.

Trading updates from UK retailers and industry data have shown that shoppers prioritised spending on food over Christmas rather than more discretionary general merchandise, reflecting the tight economic conditions in Britain.

Industry data, published on Tuesday, showed lacklustre UK retail sales in December, adding to concerns that the economy has tipped into a mild recession, after soaring inflation forced the Bank of England to hike interest rates to a 15-year high of 5.25 per cent.

Tesco has also benefited from consumers looking to save money by cooking and entertaining at home rather than dining out, with sales of its “Finest” premium range soaring 17 per cent.

“We head into the new year in great shape,” CEO Ken Murphy said. – Additional reporting: Reuters

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