Sainsbury's sees Q3 fashion strength as cold weather boosts sales
There was good news and bad from UK supermarkets giant Sainsbury's on Wednesday as the company’s third-quarter trading statement (the 15 weeks to January 4) showed weak sales, although fashion was stronger.
Total sales at the company fell by 0.7% excluding fuel, with like-for-like sales down by the same amount. And general merchandise sales fell an even bigger 3.9%, which means the Argos chain’s turnaround remains a work in progress. But clothing (mainly its Tu Clothing brand) helped to save the day with a 4.4% increase.
The fashion performance was helped by the cold weather and by seasonal clothing that saw customers buying into its offer in ever larger numbers. Full-price sales were up nearly 8% and womenswear was particularly popular, including “a sell-out range” of novelty Christmas jumpers
That was good news given that the usually-high-performing clothing category had been weaker in recent periods. In the first quarter of the current financial year it actually fell 4.5%, although it recovered to a 3.3% increase in Q2. The 4.4% rise for Q3 is therefore very encouraging.
And while general merchandise continued its run of sales falls in the current year with the market being “challenging”, the company also said that Christmas, party and gifting ranges were strong. And CEO Mike Coupe added that Argos enjoyed its its biggest digital event ever for Black Friday. It saw record sales through mobile and via click-and-collect around the key seasonal sales event and took 12 orders per second in the peak hour.
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