Sainsbury’s have released their annual Christmas sales report

Contrary to Next’s report of particularly low sales over the Christmas period, this year Sainsbury’s has reported that its sales were better than expected.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe said the supermarket had traded well in “a highly competitive market”.

However, the company has reported a 0.4 percent fall in like-for-like sales excluding fuel in the three months to 9 January compared with a year earlier.

It comes as Morrisons surprised by reporting its first positive sales in more than a year, and department stores such as John Lewis and Debenhams like-for-like sales soared.

Meanwhile, Mr Coupe said the 0.4 percent decline in Sainsbury’s third quarter sales was an improvement on the previous two quarters and he expects the second half of the financial year to be better than the first half.

He added sales in the seven days to Christmas were 2.6 percent higher at 30 million.

Himanshu Pal, an analyst at Kantar Worldpanel said Sainsbury’s had done “quite well” over the Christmas period, given the 2.6 percent rise in transactions and a rise in market share.

“Sainsbury’s is making the right moves in simplifying its pricing and strategy and reducing multi-buy offers,” he added.

Mr Pal added there is “a slight fightback from the big four supermarkets in terms of pricing and investment”.

But he said he expected the discounters such as Aldi and Lidl, to continue to rule the market share.

Mr Coupe said Sainsbury’s would “continue to remain competitive on price and our performance this quarter provides further evidence that our strategy is working”.

According to market share figures from research firm Kantar Worldpanel, Sainsbury’s was the best performing of the big four supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons.

According to stock broker, Bernstein, Sainsbury’s was also the only listed supermarket to open new stores in the period, with 16 new convenience stores.

The group said sales were helped by its TV advertising campaign featuring children’s fictional character Mog the cat. The advert was viewed almost 37 million times online and sales of a book and soft toy raised more than £1.5m for Save the Children.