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Tough toy market drags down Christmas sales at Sainsbury’s

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Sales at Sainsbury’s declined slightly over the festive period as shoppers spent less on toys and games.

The group, which also owns Argos, said total retail sales excluding fuel fell by 0.7% in the 15 weeks to 4 January.

While grocery sales grew 0.4% and clothing sales were up by 4.4%, general merchandise sales declined by 3.9%.

Sainsbury’s described the general merchandise market as “challenging” but noted that Argos had its “biggest ever digital channel trading day” on Black Friday.

Mike Coupe, chief executive of J Sainsbury plc, said: “We gave our customers a great combination of quality food at good prices this Christmas and we delivered a standout performance operationally.

“Argos had its biggest digital Black Friday to date and record sales through mobile and via Argos Click and Collect. 32 million customers shopped with us across Sainsbury’s and Argos in the key Christmas week.

“The colder weather helped to deliver strong clothing sales in the quarter and our Christmas, party and gifting ranges were all popular with customers. Argos outperformed the market in consumer electronics, but the toy and gaming markets declined year-on-year.”

Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, said Sainsbury’s “reasonably good” trading update this morning “was anticipated” given relatively better performances over recent quarters compared to peers and yesterday’s Kantar update, which said Sainsbury’s had reported the best sales figures of the big four grocers in the past 12 weeks.

Sainsbury’s is the third supermarket to report festive trading figures.

On Monday, Aldi announced sales in the four weeks to 24 December topped £1bn for the first time ever, and yesterday Morrisons reported a 1.7% fall in like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, during the 22 weeks to 5 January.