Total sales nudged up 0.8% at Sainbury's during its third quarter - covering the 15 weeks to January 7, 2017 - helped by a 4.1% boost to total sales at newly acquired Argos.
Like-for-like retail sales were up just 0.1% across the supermarket group, with Argos seeing a like-for-like rise of 4%. Combined like-for-likes at Sainsbury's and Argos (excluding fuel) were up 1%.
Group chief executive Mike Coupe said, “Sainsbury’s offered customers greater quality food, choice and value than ever before, across all channels. We had a record Christmas week, with over 30 million customer transactions at Sainsbury’s and over £1 billion of sales across the group. Thanks to the commitment of all our colleagues, we delivered an excellent shopping experience and helped our customers live well for less over the festive period.
“Our groceries online and convenience channels performed well, achieving over nine and six per cent sales growth respectively and at Argos we saw record levels of online participation. Online sales made up 18 per cent of total Group sales in the quarter.
“Clothing and general merchandise also had a very strong quarter, with clothing sales up ten per cent and general merchandise up three per cent.
“At Argos we delivered strong growth in the quarter, driven by the key Black Friday and Christmas trading periods. Our Argos digital stores in Sainsbury’s supermarkets are performing well, as awareness of the convenience of shopping at both Sainsbury’s and Argos under one roof grows among our customers.
“The market remains very competitive and the impact of the devaluation of sterling remains uncertain. However, we are well placed to navigate the external environment and remain focused on delivering our strategy.”
Argos delivered strong sales in its technology categories as well as toys, sports and gifts. Over the Black Friday period, 65% of its sales were made online, making up 250,000 Fast Track deliveries over that weekend. Online sales grew by 13% over the quarter for the retailer, accounting for 57% of total Argos sales.
There are now 30 Argos digital stores and three Habitat concessions in Sainsbury's stores.