Sainsbury’s has raised its forecasts for full-year profits after a record Christmas trading performance partly driven by a surge in online sales.
The supermarket reported that like-for-like sales (excluding fuel) rose by 1.1 per cent in the 15 weeks to 6 January compared to the equivalent period the year before.
Total grocery sales were up 2.3 per cent, with online grocery sales rising 8.2 per cent and convenience growing by 7.3 per cent.
Chief executive Mike Coupe said the online channel accounted for a fifth of all sales during the quarter, and Friday 22 December was the retailer’s busiest trading day, with Sainsbury’s delivering an online grocery order to a customer every second.
The retailer’s full-year underlying profit before tax is now expected to be “moderately ahead of the published consensus” of £559 million, published on 5 January.
Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe said: “We’re pleased with our performance across the group this quarter.
“We had a strong Christmas week, with record sales, over 340,000 online grocery orders and stellar growth in Argos Fast Track delivery and collection.”
He added: “We delivered an excellent operational performance across the group, with great availability, strong customer satisfaction scores and our lowest level of waste ever at Christmas.”
The supermarket’s Taste the Difference range performed particularly well, with customers buying more food from the premium range than last year.
At the other end of the price scale, the supermarket offered key Christmas vegetable lines for just 25p.
Martin Lane, managing editor of money.co.uk, commented: “We might have been feeling the pinch in the build up to Christmas but despite this, shoppers opted to spend more for a little bit of Christmas luxury, with Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range being a big hit this year.”
In addition, the retailer’s Argos stores, which Sainsbury’s agreed to buy in 2016, performed well, with Argos registering record sales during the Black Friday period.