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British retailers struggle despite festive season as Brexit fears loom


British retailers struggle despite festive season as Brexit fears loom
Image Credit: Pixabay

Britain's retailers reported mixed results for the critical Christmas period, with major supermarkets suffering their slowest festive season in years and retailers varied in their performance.

British shoppers cut back on spending in late 2019, rounding off the worst year since at least the mid-1990s for retail sales as measured by an industry group amid uncertainty about Brexit and last month's election. That followed relatively subdued updates from the high street following "Black Friday" sales at the end of November.

Primark-owner Associated British Foods is scheduled to post its trading update this week. Following are some of the highlights by sector:

SUPERMARKETS:

LIDL

The British arm of the German discount supermarket group said on Jan. 10 its total sales rose 11% in the four weeks to Dec. 29.

TESCO

Britain's biggest retailer ground out a 0.1% rise in underlying sales in its home market on Jan. 9 during what it said was a "subdued" Christmas for consumer spending.

SAINSBURY'S

Britain's No. 2 supermarket group reported a slight drop in underlying sales on Jan. 8 as weak demand for general merchandise overshadowed solid sales of food.

MORRISONS

The country's fourth-largest supermarket group reported another fall in underlying sales over Christmas on Jan. 7 as a tough economic backdrop and sustained consumer uncertainty deterred shoppers from splashing out.

ALDI

The British arm of the German discount supermarket said on Jan. 6 sales growth in the four weeks to Dec. 24 was driven by strong demand for beer, wine and spirits.

DEPARTMENT STORES, HOMEWARE AND CLOTHES:

SUPERDRY

The fashion brand warned on its full-year profit on Jan. 10 after sales during the Christmas period fell short of its expectations.

JOULES

The fashion retailer warned on Jan. 10 that its 2020 profit would be significantly below market expectations as online retail sales suffered during Christmas.

B&M

The company, which sells everything from furniture to food, said on Jan. 10 its sales growth slowed in the key Christmas quarter due to a tough market.

JOHN LEWIS

Britain's best-known store chain on Jan. 9 cut its annual profit forecast after weak Christmas sales.

MARKS & SPENCER

The retailer on Jan. 9 said its performance over the key Christmas quarter was held back by waste in its food business and weak sales of menswear and gifts.

DUNELM

The homewares retailer forecast a near 20% jump in earnings for the first half of its fiscal year, as it avoided discounting during the key holiday season.

NEXT

The clothing retailer raised its full-year profit forecast on Jan. 3 after a better-than-expected Christmas performance.

PUBS & RESTAURANTS:

MITCHELLS & BUTLERS

The pub and restaurant operator reported strong sales for the festive season on Jan. 9, as more diners opted for its pricier healthy menu options.

CITY PUB GROUP

City Pub Group Plc on Jan. 13 forecast full-year adjusted core earnings slightly below consensus citing holiday period sales hurt by political uncertainty ahead of the British election in December and a lackluster Rugby World Cup.

GENERAL:

CARD FACTORY

The greeting card retailer on Jan. 9 said it expected lower annual earnings as last month's general election and weak consumer confidence hurt its Christmas performance.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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