Wm Morrison announced on Monday that, thanks to aggressive promotional tactics by competitors, like-for-like sales fell 2.5% in the six weeks to December 30 compared with the same period the previous year.
The chain said the figures were ‘disappointing’, conceding that it will need to ramp up its efforts with competitive promotional deals and win back customers from other supermarkets.
In a statement, Morrisons said: ‘The environment over the Christmas period has continued to be challenging with hard pressed consumers increasingly shopping to a budget and vouchering a prominent feature of a highly promotional market.’
The chain also suggested that other chains have stolen a march on the multi-channel approach, whereas Morrisons has ‘only recently entered’ the market with smaller convenience stores and online retailing.
Chief executive Dalton Philips said: ‘In a difficult market our sales performance was lower than anticipated, but we have a strong business and significant opportunities to advance our strategy, as we accelerate our multi-channel offer.’
It is thought that Morrisons will be launching a new online groceries e-commerce offering later in 2013, and shareholders are obviously confident that the firm can pull itself back up: shares rose 1% in early trading on Monday.
The results come less than a week after John Lewis and Next reported a bumper Christmas period, which offered some hope that retailers had an easier ride than the previous year.
Unfortunately, the results are particularly disappointing for Morrisons because it actually outperformed Tesco the previous Christmas – the latter had to issue its first profit warning for 20 years after some poor festive season sales.
Still, we’re yet to hear from Sainsbury, Asda and Tesco about their Christmas sales. Just how disappointing Morrisons’ sales are will be clearer once we know about the others…