Shares in Tesco fell 13p to finish on 407p yesterday after the supermarket giant released lower than expected Christmas trading figures.

Like-for-like sales growth, excluding petrol, for the six weeks to 5 January, rose 3.1%, falling short of analyst expectations of nearer 4%.

Tesco finance director Andrew Higginson defended the figures: “We have all been affected by the market the same as anyone else as the market slows,” he said. “Most people would give their right arm for these types of numbers.”

Although the figures were worse than expected, analysts were not unduly concerned. “When you have a company that accounts for one eighth of all retail spend, it's hard to believe they won't be impacted by a slowdown,” Geoff Ruddell, an analyst at Morgan Stanley told The Times. “It's a testament to them that they are still likely to hit their earnings targets.”

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