Asda bosses have blamed “customer concerns over Brexit” after the supermarket suffered sliding sales over the past three months.
The UK supermarket chain reported a 0.5% decline in like-for-like sales in the quarter to September 30, as it dipped from 0.5% growth in the previous quarter.
Doug McMillon, the boss of Asda owner Walmart, said that Brexit fears “continue to negatively affect customer spending patterns” for the chain.
Asda chief executive and president Roger Burnley added that customers have had “little respite” from political and economic uncertainty in recent months, which has influenced spending.
I am absolutely committed to securing the future of our business for the benefit of our colleagues, our customers and our communities – whatever external challenges we may faceRoger Burnley, Asda chief executive and president
On Tuesday, data from Kantar said Asda saw sales decline by 1.2% in the 12 weeks to November 3.
The big four supermarkets all reported recent declines, according to the data, falling behind rapid growth from German discounter rivals, such as Lidl, which it said saw 8.8% sales growth over the period.
Asda and rival Sainsbury’s attempted to counteract the competition of the discounters by agreeing a multibillion-pound merger last year, but the move collapsed after it was blocked by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in April.
In July, Mr Burnley said Asda could be floated on the stock market in the next two or three years, as Walmart looks to offload the UK business.
Despite the slump in total sales, Asda said it saw “strong” online grocery sales over the period, which it claimed was “two times the growth of the overall market”.
Mr Burnley said the company will “work hard to keep prices low” for customers despite weaker consumer spending.
He added: “I am absolutely committed to securing the future of our business for the benefit of our colleagues, our customers and our communities – whatever external challenges we may face.
“As we enter the busiest trading period of the year, I am confident that we are ready and raring to go and I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to every one of our colleagues, who I know will pull out all the stops to make this Christmas extra special for our customers.
“Whilst the retail sector continues to face challenges as a whole, I know that Asda is built on strong foundations and is at its best when we are able to work as one team, delivering for our customers.”