Sainsbury's Turkey

Source: Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s Christmas sales grew 8.6% in 2023 compared with the year before

Demand for Sainsbury’s premium own label ranges, as well as discounts offered as part of its Nectar Prices scheme, saw the grocer achieve what CEO Simon Roberts said were “strong” Christmas sales.

Sainsbury’s revealed what had been billed to be stellar third quarter financial results on Wednesday, which included its performance in the six weeks covering the festive period. Grocery sales grew 9.3% during the 16 weeks to 6 January, with Christmas food sales up 8.6%.

Importantly, volume growth offset falls in the rate of food inflation seen ahead of the Christmas period, Roberts said.

Volumes of Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference range grew by 13% over Christmas, which made it the supermarket’s “fastest-growing” own label brand. It showed that customers had been prepared to “switch up” this Christmas despite the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Sainsbury’s released 170 new Christmas products under the range, which included its heavily promoted Charcuter Tree and a Home For Christmas Chocolate Dessert, and had achieved record sales on some lines.

Sales of mince pies grew 20% compared with last year, reflecting Sainsbury’s “best year ever” for the product, Roberts said. 

Cheese lines within the range also achieved “record sales” this Christmas. Roberts said this was the result of an increased focus on improving the category over the past year, including the expansion of the range, and an investment in quality and how cheese is displayed in store, for example with the launch of new self-serve counters in some stores.

Overall, Taste the Difference cheese sales had increased by 50% year on year, Roberts said. He declined to reveal sales volumes of Sainsbury’s cheaper tiered own labels, which includes Stamford Street.

“At a headline level we’ve served more customers, more often, with bigger baskets across the whole of their grocery shop – and that really is why we are winning,” Roberts said.

Sainsbury’s had grown volume share ahead of all of its key full choice competitors, and for the first time ahead of Aldi, he said. Lidl was the only supermarket to achieve larger sales growth across the year, according to Sainsbury’s own figures.

Sainsbury’s first ‘purple Christmas’

Christmas 2023 was also the first Christmas since Sainsbury’s launched its Nectar Prices loyalty scheme, which it had extended to 6,000 products, including its annual Christmas Dinner bundle deal.

Participation rates in the loyalty scheme had been at 90% among customers who were doing a full weekly shop. It had provided them with a £16 saving on an £80 basket on average during the quarter, Sainsbury’s said.

Sainsbury’s had achieved its best period of availability since Q4 2021, following a significant investment in AI-driven forecasting technology, which had helped it improve stock flows, Roberts said.

Going into the new year, Sainsbury’s had now extended its Aldi Price Match to more than 500 products. It would also invest a further £23m in lowering prices, Roberts said.

Sainsbury’s was entering 2024 on the back of “strong momentum”, which showed the success of its food first strategy over the past three years, he added. Sainsbury’s would unveil a new updated strategy in February, he revealed.