Morrisons reports chipper Christmas sales

Morrisons said that, in the nine weeks to Jan. 1, like-for-like (LFL) sales excluding fuel were up 2.9% (up 4.7% including fuel), its strongest performance for seven years.

Total sales were also up (2.0% excluding fuel, or 4.0% including fuel), despite the continuing impact of store closures. LFL transaction growth was again strong, up 5.2% year-on-year during the period.

"This growth was achieved by improving the offer, becoming more competitive, and serving customers better," the company said in a statement.

"Fresh categories such as Fruit & Veg, together with Beers, Wines & Spirits, 'Best' and Nutmeg clothing all performed well. Our performance shows that when we improve the shopping trip, customers respond.

"We continue to serve our customers better both in the stores and online. Service standards improved at the checkouts and on the shop floor, and Morrisons.com achieved its biggest ever week for sales. "Our new 'Best' range is already proving very popular, with over half of customer baskets including at least one 'Best' item. We launched over 100 new 'Best' products especially for Christmas shoppers in addition to the first 470 which were launched in the Autumn.

"Customer feedback on quality and breadth of the range has been excellent, and we see further significant potential for 'Best'.

"In addition, in recent months a new automated ordering system has been introduced into all stores in Grocery and many Fresh categories. It is the first of its kind for Morrisons.

"The system is capital light, utilising cloud technology and store-specific historic sales data to forecast stock requirements. It is simpler and saves time for colleagues, availability has improved significantly, and stock levels are down."