Sainsburys Misses Fourth Quarter Sales Forecasts

Sainsbury’s has reported a larger-than-expected slowdown in sales growth for its fourth quarter of trading.
The supermarket chain posted a 1 per cent rise in like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, and a 3.5 per cent in total product sales for the 12 weeks to March 19.
The Q4 sales growth was less than half the level expected by analysts and sharply down on the 3.6 per cent growth for the previous quarter.
Justin King, chief executive at Sainsbury’s, said he was surprised by the “significant step-down” in consumer spending, with the usual February boost failing to materialise following a subdued January.
He added that sky-high petrol prices, rising taxes and job fears had put the squeeze on household budgets and changed people’s grocery shopping habits, with people now looking to make smaller weekly shops.
“We expect the consumer environment to remain tough, with our customers facing fuel price inflation, uncertain employment prospects and government spending cuts”, he continued.
“We have demonstrated our ability to perform well in these conditions and are confident that our growth plans and universal customer appeal, supported by Nectar and coupon at till, mean we are well-positioned for further growth in 2011 and 2012.”
Despite the unexpected figures, Sainsburys still managed to attract 21 million customers to its stores each week – one million more than last year.