Supermarket Morrisons has reported a rise in sales in the crucial Christmas shopping period.
The number four supermarket chain said sales had risen 3.6% in the nine weeks to 6 January, driven by a 3% rise in the wholesale division, which supplies Amazon and McColls.
In the stores, sales rose 0.6% – more than the 0.5% expected by analysts.
The chain said it had “performed well, sustaining a strong offer and trading the business hard for customers”.
But retail sales are lower than the 1.3% in the third quarter and the 2.1% reported last Christmas.
The figures are for like-for-like sales, which do not include new store openings.
Chief executive David Potts hailed the retailer’s “fourth consecutive Christmas of like-for-like sales growth during the turnaround”.
The company maintained its outlook for the 2018-19 financial year.
In its trading update, Morrisons said: “We were again more competitive, with the price of our basket of key Christmas items the same as last year.”
The company said customer satisfaction – such as “colleague friendliness and checkout experience” – had “increased significantly”, which it said was an important measure of its progress in turning around the business.
The supermarkets battled to win customers over the trading period and are continuing to chase customers by cutting prices. On Monday, Morrisons had said it would cut prices by an average of 20% on 935 products, including tinned tomatoes, cereals and multivitamins.
Like-for-like sales across the group, including fuel, were up 3.4%. Total sales were up 4% excluding fuel.
Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director of Fidelity Personal Investing, said that “tucked away in the Christmas trading update was what really attracted shoppers – not cheery staff and faster checkouts, but last year’s prices”.