UK retail group J Sainsbury Plc registered a small combined like-for-like sales increase of 0.3% for its Sainsbury's and Argos chains, in the nine weeks to 11 March, 2017.
The Sainsbury's chain alone saw a total retail sales increase of 0.1%, excluding fuel, while its like-for-like retail sales dropped 0.5%, again excluding fuel.
It said its General Merchandise category sales were down by 4% over the quarter, due to a later Easter and Mother's Day in 2017.
Its catalogue retail arm, Argos, acquired in 2016, posted an increase in sales of 3.8%, with like-for-like sales up 4.3%. This revenue was boosted by the electronics category, including mobile phones, video games and wearable tech.
Online, its grocery sales increased by 7%, with orders up by 8%.
Mike Coupe, the chief executive of the group, commented, “We are pleased with this performance and are making good progress against our key priorities. Customers appreciate the quality, choice and value of our differentiated food offer and our Tu clothing brand again performed ahead of the market, with sales up 5%.
“Argos delivered another strong quarter of growth, with like-for-like sales up by over 4%. We are investing in digital to deliver excellent service and availability, with enhancements to the Argos website and app. Online participation is growing, driven by mobile and Fast Track delivery and customers are responding well to new ranges".
"The market remains very competitive and the impact of cost price pressures remains uncertain. However, we are well placed to navigate the external environment and remain focused on delivering our strategy."
The retailer said it will continue to 'simplify' its trading strategy, in order to provide lower regular prices; it also said it has lowered its promotional activity, as well as operational costs and food waste to generate savings.
At the end of the quarter, the Sainsbury's chain had 605 supermarkets and 806 convenience outlets in the UK.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Karen Henderson. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.