A late surge in spending at Christmas does not appear to have helped Sainsbury’s, with sales falling by more than expected as shoppers “downtraded” to less expensive items (The Times £). Sainsbury’s reported a fall in sales in the third quarter, which includes the key Christmas period, and warned that the outlook remained “uncertain”, especially in general merchandise (The Financial Times £). Christmas came late for Sainsbury’s as the grocer recorded a drop in sales after “cautious” customers reined in their spending and its Argos business came under pressure from deep discounts offered by rivals (The Telegraph). A fall in sales of toys and electrical goods at Argos after a cutback on Black Friday discounts dragged down trading at Sainsbury’s over Christmas (The Guardian). Sainsbury’s has blamed “cautious customer spending” for a fall in sales in the third quarter, which includes the crucial Christmas period (Sky News). Pressure is mounting on Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe after the supermarket posted miserable Christmas results (The Daily Mail).

“Sainsbury’s gets a festive stuffing” writes Alistair Osborne in The Times (£). “Even if Mr Coupe reckons there’s little in the present share price for the Asda tie-up, he may be in for a shock. The sector’s been derated since and investors have already banked the £160 million Argos synergies. Minus Asda, he will face quite a grilling over his alternative growth plan for today’s attritional market.”

‘Christmas came late this year”, according to Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe. Or, in the case of Britain’s number-two supermarket, it didn’t come at all. Sainsbury’s finished firmly bottom of the pile over the festive trading period. (The Telegraph)

Sainsbury’s stock slid into the red today after the UK’s second biggest supermarket posted what an analyst has called ‘a truly woeful set of numbers’ for the all-important ‘Golden Quarter’. (The Daily Mail)

Sainsbury’s Asda deal matters far more than its subdued Christmas trading statement, according to the FT’s Lex column. “Sainsbury’s needs Asda badly. Both have felt pricing pressure from German discounters keenly. Sainsbury’s operating margins nearly halved in the two years to September. Asda would provide scale, and with it protection from Amazon’s nascent threat.” (The Financial Times £)

The retail sector endured its worst Christmas since the financial crisis in 2008, according to the British Retail Consortium as fragile consumer confidence took its toll on the high street (The Times £). Retailers have suffered their worst December since the recession after cautious shoppers delayed spending until the last moment and abandoned the high street to hunt for bargains online (The Telegraph). Retailers experienced their worst Christmas for 10 years last month as shops were hit by Brexit worries and a dramatic fall in consumer confidence (The Guardian). There was little Christmas cheer for the UK retailer sector last month, as new sales figures reveal it had the worst December performance since 2008 (Sky News).

Brexit uncertainty adds to UK retailers’ woes, writes The FT’s editorial. “The comparative resilience of spending since the referendum, helped by household savings rates close to 50-year lows, is finally being sapped by the Westminster pantomime and fears of a disorderly EU exit.” (The Financial Times £)

Christmas trading signals a widening high street divide, writes the FT. Figures reflect split into those that have moved with the times and those who have not. (The Financial Times £)

Shares in Greggs soared to an all-time peak after the company announced it had finished 2018 on a high, with strong demand for seasonal products helping to drive up final-quarter sales (The Financial Times £). Greggs increased its full-year profit forecast for the second time in less than seven weeks after strong sales of its bakes, mince pies and hot drinks over the Christmas period (The Times £).

Greggs has sold “hundreds of thousands” of its new £1 vegan sausage rolls in the first week of January, making it the fastest selling new line in six years (The Telegraph). The new vegan sausage roll launched by Greggs is “flying off the shelves”, leaving Britain’s biggest bakery chain unable to keep up with demand after selling hundreds of thousands in the first week (The Guardian). Greggs has hailed the success of its ‘very popular’ vegan-friendly sausage rolls, as it cooked up a 7.2 per cent rise in sales over the past year (The Daily Mail)

UK bakery chain Greggs is almost as good at pies as it is at PR, writes The FT’s Lex column. “Greggs has combined an appetite for column inches with astute estate management… Improbably, a bakery chain once favoured by hard hats hungry for cheap carbs has become one of Britain’s top fast-food destinations.” (The Financial Times £)

Britain will not run out of Vimto under any Brexit scenario because key ingredients are sourced at home, executives at owner Nichols have insisted. (The Telegraph)

Wine seller Majestic said today that Christmas trading was more difficult than it anticipated as economic uncertainty and weak consumer confidence in the run-up to Brexit take their toll (The Daily Mail). The boss of Majestic Wine has refused to rule out store closures as Christmas revenue growth doubled, driven by surging online sales (The Telegraph).

Foreign winemakers are “very seriously” examining whether to shift their bottling production lines out of Britain to avoid disruption after Brexit, according to industry leaders. (The Times £)

Amazon has confirmed it pays UK business rates of only £63.4m, almost £40m less than Next, despite clocking up more than double the sales in the UK of the clothing and home retailer (The Guardian). Amazon paid only £63 million in business rates in 2018 despite making £8 billion of sales in the UK (The Times £). Amazon has been accused of “gaming the system” after it emerged the online retail giant paid just £63m in business rates last year, despite raking in £8bn of sales in the UK (The Telegraph).

Two leading US plant protein start-ups are going head to head with product upgrades to their vegan burgers. Impossible Foods, the group backed by Bill Gates and Singapore’s Temasek, launched its “Impossible Burger 2.0” this week, while Beyond Meat, which filed for an IPO late last year, introduced the “Beyond Burger 2.0” earlier this month. (The Financial Times £)

Canada Dry is to stop claiming it contains “real ginger” after its owners agreed to settle a landmark US class action with up to one million consumers just days before going to court. (The Telegraph)

The UK’s first dog food made from insects goes on sale this week, which its manufacturers say could help reduce the environmental damage caused by the massive volumes of meat routinely fed to dogs and cats. (The Guardian)