Tesco reports robust holiday sales

Photo: AP Ken Murphy

Britain’sTesco biggest retailer reported optimistic financial results related to robust sales at the end of 2020. Christmas shopping seemed to be unaffected by lockdowns and paved the way to register a positive 6-month record.

The group said UK like-for-like sales growth was 6.7% in its third quarter to 28 November, accelerating to 8.1% in the six weeks to 9 Jaunary, Reuters reported.

“We delivered a record Christmas across all of our formats and channels,” said CEO Ken Murphy. Tesco’s update follows strong Christmas trading reports from No. 2 Sainsbury’s, No. 4 Morrisons and No. 7 Lidl GB. Industry data published last week showed the supermarket sector benefited from unprecedented Christmas demand, with shoppers spending 11.7 billion pounds on groceries in December.

Restrictions to contain the virus mean many people are working from home and the hospitality sector is closed.

Adding to the demand for food and drink, many of the five million or so Britons who normally travel abroad for Christmas had to stay at home.

Tesco estimated additional Covid-19 costs would be 810 million pounds in its 2020-21 year, up from 725 million pounds forecast in October.

But it still maintained its guidance for 2020-21 retail operating profit before exceptional items of “at least” the same level as 2019-20’s, excluding the repayment of 535 million pounds of business rates relief.

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