Roger Burnley

Source: Asda

Burnley said low consumer confidence levels were also ‘amplified by the impact of weather’

Asda CEO Roger Burnley today warned consumer confidence had plunged to a six-year low, as Brexit uncertainty hit supermarket trading.

Parent company Walmart reported 0.5% like-for-like sales growth for Asda, excluding petrol, for the period 1 April to 30 June 2019, compared to a decline of 1.1% in the previous quarter.

However, the period included the benefit of a late Easter and means Asda recorded a 0.3% like-for-like fall in sales in the first half of the year.

“If ever a case study on the impact the mood of the nation has on UK spending habits were needed, this quarter has provided it,” said Burnley.

“Consumer confidence levels are at an almost six-year low - due in no small part to the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, and amplified by the impact of weather and tracking against national sporting events in the same period last year.

“As a result our non-food business has been challenged during the period, however we’re satisfied that our food business has continued to perform well and our online growth continues to outpace the market.”

Burnley said highlights of the period included expanding its vegan range with 35 new products, its offer of mobile scan and go to 25 stores and investing £22m in refurbishing nine stores.

He added: “We were delighted to win the Grocer 33 award on price for the 22nd year in a row and despite ongoing CPI pressures, we have continued to work hard on maintaining our strategic imperative to win on price by ensuring a basket of shopping from Asda delivers the best value for our customers week in, week out.”

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said Brexit was casting a shadow over Asda’s performance, adding: “Our results for the quarter reflect the challenges faced by shoppers in this market as the uncertainty surrounding Brexit continues to loom.

“As the macro issues play out, we’ll continue to help customers navigate these times. We’re improving our price position over last year, especially with our private label products, as well as on-shelf availability. We’re also making progress on key strategic priorities such as online grocery where sales growth outpaced the market in Q2, according to Kantar.”