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Retail

Morrisons' Sales Rise 8.1% Over Third Quarter And Christmas

UK retailer Morrisons has reported a rise in underlying sales in its latest trading period, encompassing Christmas, benefiting from out of home eating and drinking being restricted by strict COVID-19 regulations.

The group said on that group like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, rose 8.1% in the 22 weeks to January 3 - a period that spans Morrisons third quarter to November 1 and the nine week Christmas trading period.

The outcome compared to analysts' average forecast of a rise of 8.3% and a second quarter increase of 12.3%.

Safe Shopping

"The pandemic has had a severe effect on people and communities around Britain for nine months now but it has been especially hard at Christmas time," commented David Potts, Morrisons chief executive.

"I'm very pleased with the way the Morrisons team has helped our customers across the nation enjoy their Christmas in the best way they could - with safe shopping, great service and outstanding stores even in the most difficult circumstances."

All of Britain's supermarket groups benefited in the run-up to Christmas from unprecedented demand due to the pandemic. Restrictions mean a large chunk of the population is still working from home and the hospitality sector is closed.

Supermarkets also had more mouths to feed, with many of the five million or so Britons who normally travel abroad for Christmas staying in the UK.

Profit Expectations

Morrisons said it still expected 2020/21 profit before tax and exceptionals to be in line with its expectations, in the range of £420 million to £440 million, prior to a business rates payment of £230 million.

Shares in Morrisons, down 7% over the last year, closed at 181 pence on Monday, valuing the business at £4.4 billion.

""We will carry on listening, responding and growing, and take all the positive learnings and momentum of the most challenging of years into what we believe will be a better 2021 for all," Potts added.

On Monday, discounter Aldi reported a 10.6% year-on-year rise in UK sales for the four weeks to December 24.

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

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