British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has reported a robust performance in its third quarter (Q3) 2023/24, with retail sales excluding fuel increasing by 6.5%.
During the 16 weeks to 6 January 2024, the company’s like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, also saw an uptick of 7.4%.
Including fuel, total retail sales were up by 4.4%, despite a decline of 7.2% in fuel sales.
Grocery sales experienced a significant boost in Q3, climbing by 9.3%, with Christmas grocery sales up by 8.6%. This growth was attributed to stronger volume growth which helped to offset lower inflation rates.
General merchandise sales dipped slightly by 0.6% but show a 1.5% increase when the impact of the Argos closure in the Republic of Ireland is excluded.
The Christmas period saw general merchandise sales fall by 3.7%, or 1.3% excluding the Argos closure impact.
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Clothing sales also saw a downturn, with a 1.7% decrease in Q3 and a more pronounced 6.0% drop over the Christmas period.
J Sainsbury chief executive Simon Roberts said: “We’ve worked hard to really deliver for our customers this quarter and have grown grocery volumes ahead of the market for the fourth Christmas in a row. More customers are choosing to shop at Sainsbury’s, recognising our determined focus on value, product innovation and service.”
Sainsbury’s maintains its forecast for an underlying profit before tax for the fiscal year 2023/24 between £670m and £700m.
The company expects a strong grocery segment to balance out the weaker general merchandise and financial services segments.
Simon Roberts added: “We enter 2024 with strong momentum and next month we will share our updated strategy, building on all we’ve done to put food back at the heart of Sainsbury’s over the last three years. There is a lot to be excited about and we remain absolutely committed to delivering for our customers, colleagues and shareholders.”