11 January, 2017
WM Morrison has raised its full-year profit forecast after "finding its mojo" and recording its strongest Christmas performance in seven years.
The German-owned discounter said sales grew by 15% in December compared with the same month previous year as it kicked off a week of festive trading figures from across the retail sector.
Among Britain's supermarket giants, Tesco led with a sales increased of 1.3 per cent, thanks to its performance within fresh food - its market share now sits at 28.2 per cent, Kantar's data showed.
However, the weaker pound began to make its presence felt in the market, as food prices rose 0.2% in the period, the first increase following two years of deflation.
Fresh categories and beverage sales also contributed to the sales growth.
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Among the Big Four, meanwhile, Morrisons had the largest year-on-year growth (3.4%) in sales, narrowly ahead of Tesco (2.7%).
The new "Best" range was said to be already proving very popular, with more than half of customer baskets including at least one "Best" item.
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Less complicated promotional offers, along with better communicated price cuts, helped capture spending over the Christmas period.
Kantar head of retail insight Fraser McKevitt commented: "Despite widespread anticipation of higher prices shoppers are yet to feel the pinch of rising inflation".
The big four supermarkets together accounted for 71.4% of market share, with a sales increase of 0.1% - the first time that all four have collectively grown since June 2014.
Much of Aldi's sales increase was due to the retailer's continued rapid expansion, as it opened 70 stores in 2016 to bring the total number to almost 700.
Aldi reported its own Christmas trading news yesterday, saying sales at its United Kingdom business rose over 15% in December compared to the same month in 2015. Sainsbury's saw sales fall 0.1% to £4.6 billion and market share fall slightly to 16.7% from 17%.
He has reversed a loss of customers by cutting prices, improving the quality and availability of its products and raising standards of customer service to deliver a 55 percent rise in the firm's shares in 2016.
There was also strong demand for its luxury "Specially Selected" range, which aimed to compete with upmarket retailers such as M&S, Waitrose and food hall of London retailer Fortnum & Mason, and included a selection of Christmas hampers.