LONDON Jan 9 J Sainsbury, Britain's
No. 3 supermarket, met forecasts for underlying sales in the
Christmas quarter, though growth did slow from its first half in
a highly promotional festive market.
The group, which trails market leader Tesco and No.
2 player Wal-Mart's Asda by annual revenue, said on
Wednesday sales at stores open over a year rose 0.9 percent,
excluding fuel, in the 14 weeks to Jan. 5, its fiscal
That was bang in line with analysts' average forecast,
according to a company poll, included a record breaking
Christmas and was a 32nd consecutive quarter of underlying sales
growth. However, the outcome was down from growth of 1.9 percent
in the previous quarter.
Total third quarter sales rose 3.3 percent, excluding fuel.
Many of Britain's grocers are finding the going tough,
despite their focus on essential goods, as consumers fret over
job security and a squeeze on real incomes.
Industry data on Tuesday showed Sainsbury's posted the
highest sales growth of Britain's so called "big four" grocers
in the run-up to Christmas and was the only one to eke out any
market share growth.
Sainsbury's said it was positioned to perform well over the
next quarter even though it expected the tough economic
background to persist.