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Slow Festive Season For Some British Retailers

Published on Jan 21 2020 7:00 AM in Retail tagged: Sainsburys / UK / Lidl / Aldi / Tesco / Consumer Spending

Slow Festive Season For Some British Retailers

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.

Following are highlights by sector:



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.


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 spending.


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


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.


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


The bicycles retailer said on Jan. 16 it sold a record number of children's bikes in the week before Christmas.

N Brown

The plus-sized fashion retailer on Jan 16 forecast lower-than-expected annual profit, hurt by poor performance at its financial services unit and more discounting in the market.

Moss Bros

The suit retailer forecast an annual pretax loss, hurt by fewer customers visiting its stores.

Associated British Foods

The company kept its annual earnings outlook on Jan 16, partly due to solid growth at its Primark fashion chain in the Christmas period.


The fast-fashion retailer on Jan 15 said good sales over the Black Friday week had not stretched into the seven weeks covering Christmas to Jan 4.


The online fashion retailer reported robust Christmas sales on Jan 14, outperforming rivals.


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


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


The company, which sells everything from furniture to food, said on Jan 10 its sales growth slowed in the 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 Christmas quarter was held back by waste in its food business and weak sales of menswear and gifts.


The homewares retailer forecast a near 20% jump in first-half earnings, as it avoided discounting during the holiday season.


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

Pubs & Restaurants


The Premier Inn owner on Jan. 16 reported a 1.3% drop in third-quarter UK like-for-like sales, as Britons delayed travel plans amid Brexit uncertainty.

City Pub Group

The pubs operator on Jan 13 forecast full-year core earnings slightly below consensus, as holiday period sales were hurt by uncertainty ahead of the December election and a lacklustre Rugby World Cup.

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.



The Premium tonic water maker said on Jan 20, that annual revenue growth of 10% would be below its expectations, hurt by subdued Christmas trading in Britain.

The gifts and stationery retailer on Jan 16 said it saw growth in online and store sales in the Christmas period, helped by new products and Frozen 2 merchandise.

Card Factory

The greeting card retailer on Jan 9 forecast lower annual earnings as the December general election and weak consumer confidence hurt its Christmas performance.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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