Tesco Ireland sales up 4% over key Christmas period

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United Kingdom supermarket retailer Tesco posted its eighth consecutive quarter of positive sales growth, with its clothing sector performing well throughout the Christmas period as its F&F ranges continue to prove popular with customers.

Food sales rose 3.6% on a total basis to £1.666bn, but like-for-like food sales were down 0.4%.

The results represented the company's eighth consecutive quarter of growth and continued market outperformance, it claimed.

The four weeks leading up to Christmas Day delivered record sales and volumes in the United Kingdom, which helped it notch up a 2.3 per cent rise in third quarter comparable sales.

And although some shareholders will be put at ease by a reiteration of FY guidance, it seems unlikely to reduce concerns that the M&S turnaround is failing to see the success of the aforementioned Tesco, while also raising further questions about how much pressure the United Kingdom high street can handle from the rise of online retailers.

WM Morrisons PLC (LON:MRW) was next up and it reported a 2.8% rise in sales in the 10 weeks to 7 January on the back of efforts to improve customer service and offer competitive prices.

An ongoing decline from general merchandise was another sore point, falling 0.6% over the Christmas period.

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Apart from Asda, which will release its figures along with those of its Wal-Mart Inc (NYSE:WMT) parent company in the coming weeks, we've heard from almost all of the major United Kingdom food retailers.

"Incorporating Palmer & Harvey volumes and complexity during this peak period was challenging, resulting in lost tobacco sales across December and putting further strain into our distribution network, particularly post-Christmas", Lewis said.

Lewis said the collapse of the Palmer & Harvey tobacco supplier had taken "the shine off an otherwise outstanding performance for the period as a whole".

Clothing sales grew 5% and Mr Lewis said Christmas was the "coming together" of over three years of the turnaround strategy.

The supermarket said its turkey prices were amongst the "lowest" in the land.

Tesco has tightened its hold on the nation's food market after the competition regulator last month cleared its 3.7 billion pound ($4.95 billion) takeover of wholesaler Booker.

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