The papers this morning focus on the positive contribution of Argos to Sainsbury’s Christmas performance.

“Sainsbury’s new toy is paying off handsomely as Argos lifts sales” is the headline in The Times (£), which writes: “Bumper Christmas sales of toys and fitbits at Argos and solid food sales have helped J Sainsbury to achieve its first sales growth in a year”. The Guardian writes that a “record Christmas at Sainsbury’s ’shows logic of Argos takeover’”, noting it plans to put 250 Argos outlets into Sainsbury’s stores over the next three years, up from 30 at present.

The FT’s Lombard column praises Sainsbury’s strategy for Argos, noting that “not many bought into” the rationale of Sainsbury’s £1.2bn purchase of Home Retail Group, but that Sainsbury’s has Sainsbury has realised that the growth potential is not in washing machines and TVs — Argos mainly offers them to sell credit deals — but in “instant gratification non-food. (The Financial Times £)

Online shoppers and strong clothing sales helped Sainsbury’s enjoy a record week over Christmas, leading to the supermarket chain to beat analyst predictions for the crucial trading period (The Telegraph). Sainsbury’s raked in over £1billion worth of sales over the Christmas period as 30million customer transactions kept the tills ringing (The Daily Mail).

The Financial Times (£) notes that Sainsbury’s “apparel range shines” in Christmas trading, pointing out that its clothing sales are outpacing fashion chains where sales have suffered.

Middle-class shoppers looking to feast on cheap drink and luxury items helped Lidl, the discount grocer, to boost its sales by 10% in December. The German supermarket group said that shoppers had been attracted to cheap prosecco, lobster and turkeys. (The Times £)

Lidl has toasted record festive sales over December after launching a campaign to address shoppers’ perceptions about its cheap prices (The Telegraph). Lidl sold 40,000 lobsters in a single day after a canny social media promotion in which the more people tweeted about the product, the more the price dropped (The Guardian).

The pound has hit its lowest level against the dollar since the UK voted to leave the EU, amid a sudden strengthening of the US currency. Sterling dipped below its post-Brexit low of $1.2081, if the trading blip caused by a so-called ‘flash crash’ is omitted, as US President-elect Donald Trump prepared to give his first news conference since November’s election. (Sky News)

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