Morrisons has pledged to freeze the price on 100 core Christmas lines, with CEO David Potts describing the retailer as feeling “chipper” going into this year’s key trading period.
Potts was speaking today as he announced a 2.5% increase in like-for-like sales in the third quarter.
“We had a good Christmas last year but we are in better shape this year,” he said. “We have completed more refits, we have more stock on the shelves, we are feeling chipper about it.”
The 100 lines that will be priced no higher than last year include the most regularly purchased products at this time, such as standard mince pies, Maris Piper potatoes and turkey.
Morrisons reported that, excluding fuel, 2.1% of the growth came from its retail operations and 0.4% from wholesale in the 13 weeks to 29 October.
Group like-for-like sales including fuel increased 3.4% in the period, with total sales for the quarter, excluding fuel, up 2.3%.
Like-for-like volumes were again in positive territory and like-for-like transactions rose 2.1% - a slowdown from 3.2% in the second quarter. Like-for-like items per basket declined by 3.6%, but this was an improvement from a 5.5% drop in the second quarter and a 6.9% drop in the first.
Morrisons said it worked hard during the quarter to limit the impact of weaker sterling on imported food prices, and made “good progress” on becoming more competitive.
The supermarket added that its ‘Price Crunch’ was popular with customers, and the new ‘Way Down’ campaign was holding prices lower for longer.
“We are pleased with a further step up in our competitiveness and another period of positive like-for-like sales growth,” said Potts.
“I am confident our plans to keep serving customers better will enable us to continue the strong momentum of the year so far, into the important fourth quarter.
“As we work towards becoming a broader, stronger business, a new Morrisons is taking shape, built by our colleagues on firm balance sheet foundations.”
During the period, Morrisons further developed its offer for customers. Several new and improved ranges were introduced, including, last week, an almost entirely new home & leisure range. The business is also growing its ‘Best’ premium own-label range to almost 1,000 items, and will have double last year’s offer in time for Christmas. In addition, Morrisons is extending its store pick home delivery catchment area in North East England, giving more households access to Morrisons.com.
Shares in Morrisons fell 1.1% to 221.5p as markets opened, after gains earlier in the week.