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Rolling update: Major retailers report mixed Xmas results, but wines still perform well

Published:  09 January, 2014

The Christmas trading results are coming in thick and fast, and overall the major retailers have reported mixed results for Christmas, with Waitrose and discount retailers stealing the limelight. However, wines and spirits have put in a decent performance for the festive season.

Andy Phelps, head of Sainsbury's Beers Wines & Spirits department, told Harpers that Christmas sales were strong with sparkling wine leading the way helped by magnums. "We were very pleased with the performance of BWS in the run up to Christmas.  In particular, during the seven days before Christmas, we saw fantastic growth in Prosecco, which was up 48% year on year and within that, Taste the Difference was a big driver - up by 25% year on year.  What we also saw was that customers were keen to make the most of the opportunity to celebrate - magnums within the sparkling category, including both Champagne and Prosecco, grew by 102% as people opted for a stylish, more opulent way to serve up their fizz."

Sainsbury's Andy PhelpsAndy PhelpsSainsbury's head of BWS Andy Phelps says magnums of sparkling wine sales doubled over Christmas

Sainsbury's saw record sales overall at Christmas, with sales up 0.2% excluding fuel. It said the seven days before Christmas constituted its "busiest ever" trading week, with more than 28 million transactions. But yesterday the supermarket cut its full-year sales forecast after warning that customers are likely to "spend cautiously" in the first few months of 2014.     

Meanwhile, the Co-operative released its festive trading update, saying  in the 13 weeks to January 4, like-for-like sales grew by 1% on the same period last year, representing an improvement on the 03% growth achieved in 2013. Sales in the three weeks to January 4 were particularly strong, with like-for-likes up 3.5% in this period, and core convenience sales up 5.4% in the same period.

Morrisons put in a "disappointing" Christmas performance, said chief executive Dalton Phillips, as like-for-likes dropped 5.6% in the six weeks to January 5. It blamed a lack of online presence and competition by cut-price retailers like Lidl and Aldi, for the decline.

Tesco, which earlier in the week boasted of sparkling wine sales between Christmas and New Year being "up considerably" compared to the same period last year, including  growth of its own label Plaza Prosecco of almost 200% while Finest Prosecco sales trebled, saw like-for-like sales fall by 2.4% during the Christmas period.  It attributed the decline partly to the "weaker grocery market" in the UK.