Morrisons cheered by Christmas sales boost
Supermarket Morrisons cheered improved trading as it revealed a surprise rise in sales over the festive season.
The Bradford-based grocer reported a 0.2% rise in like-for-like sales excluding fuel in the nine weeks to January 3 in a marked turnaround after recent hefty sales declines.
Morrisons chief executive David Potts said: "We are pleased with our improved trading performance over the Christmas period.
"While there is, of course, much more to do, we are making important progress in improving all aspects of the shopping trip."
The group said it was "beginning to attract customers back" as the Christmas performance marked its first rise in sales in around four years and confounds expectations of a sharp fall.
It follows a 2.6% drop in the previous three months and comes after a disappointing performance last year, when sales fell 3.1%.
Morrisons notched up the sales increase despite further falls in prices - down 3.2% excluding fuel over the period - as this was offset by a significant rise in sales by volume.
It added that the number of transactions rose 1.3% on a like-for-like basis. Figures for the six weeks to January 3 showed an even better performance, with comparable sales up 0.5%.
But Morrisons said it would close another seven stores, following its announcement last September that it was shutting 11 stores, putting 900 jobs at risk. It also agreed the sale of 140 local convenience stores last September for around £25m to concentrate on its larger supermarkets.