Morrisons fail to hit festive targets after opting out of Black Friday
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Morrisons supermarkets lost their festive sparkle when the ‘Boris bounce’ failed to materialise over the festive period.
The national chain - which has stores across Suffolk including in Ipswich - recorded a 1.7% drop in like-for-like sales across the group.
The UK's fourth biggest grocery chain described conditions as "unusually challenging" over the crucial Christmas period amid shopper uncertainty as it reported on its like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, for the 22 weeks to January 5 covering its third quarter.
MORE - Students being put off IT studies by 'harder' GCSE in computingIt slashed prices to help boost trade, but admitted it missed out after choosing not to take part in November's Black Friday offers.
"Throughout the period, trading conditions remained challenging and the customer uncertainty of the last year was sustained," it said.
Chief executive David Potts said there was little sign of a so-called Boris Bounce after the Conservative Party's solid victory at the December election. Consumer uncertainty would remain until a Brexit deal is agreed, he predicted.
The fuel market was also "highly competitive", with group like-for-like sales including fuel down by 2.8%, the group said.
While it did not provide specific trading figures for the Christmas period, separate market share data from Kantar Worldpanel suggested a 2.9% fall in the chain's sales for the 12 weeks to December 29.
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The Kantar data also showed it had lost market share, down to 10.3% from 10.6% a year ago.
But Morrisons said full-year profits remained on track with forecasts despite the Christmas sales.
"It was encouraging that during an unusually challenging period for sales, our execution was strong and our profitability robust, demonstrating the broad-based progress we have made during the turnaround," said Mr Potts.
"As always, we will take some learnings into the new year and look forward to 2020 with a strong plan and solid foundations on which to continue to grow."
The group saw flat comparable sales growth for its wholesale division over the 22 weeks, which includes tie-ups with McColl's and Amazon.
Wholesale trading was hit by lower total sales at McColl's, but the performance was better at the 10 stores converted to Morrisons Daily, it said.
It plans to roll the trial out to around another 20 stores over the next two months.
Arlene Ewing, investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, described the performance overall as "a resilient set of numbers".