Morrisons underwhelms with modest Christmas growth

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Morrisons has disappointed analysts with lower than expected sales growth over the festive period.

The Bradford-based supermarket group delivered like-for-like growth of just 0.7% for the six weeks to 1 January, with total sales up 2.9% - or by 5.6% including fuel. Morrisons said the Christmas period had been “challenging for the consumer” and that its results were in line with the market.

However the news surprised the City, with most analysts predicting growth of around 1%. But the retailer insisted expectations for the full year were unchanged.

Morrisons said its focus on quality, price and promotions has helped attracted an extra 800,000 customers per week during the period.

“I am pleased that in a difficult trading environment we have continued to grow our business and have delivered another good performance in a very tough market,” said chief executive Dalton Philips.

“At Christmas, when customers are even more focused on great quality food at outstanding value, we really need to serve our customers well. We’ve done that and I thank all our 130,000 colleagues for their outstanding efforts.”

The retailer predicted that consumers would remain cautious during 2012 despite an expected easing of inflationary pressures.

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