Tesco Ireland sees sales rise over Christmas

Mixed results for UK retailers over key Christmas period

But Tesco missed overall group forecasts for Christmas trading as strong sales of fresh food were undermined by lower demand for general goods such as DVDs and computer games.

In the four weeks leading up to Christmas day, the UK's largest supermarket chain saw like-for-like sales rise 2.0% in the United Kingdom and Ireland compared to the same period in 2016.

Tesco, which is Ireland's second biggest grocery retailer in terms of the value of sales, said its like-for-like sales in Ireland climbed 3.5pc during the 19-week period.

"We had a mixed quarter that started off with a challenging October but got better on both sides of the business in the run-up to Christmas", M&S Chief Executive Steve Rowe said, adding that it "had a lot to do" to get its food business on track. In the United Kingdom total sales were up 1.1% to £2.858bn, but on a like-for-like basis - in stores open a year or more where comparable figures can be taken - United Kingdom sales were down 1.4%.

Elsewhere, House of Fraser said sales in the six weeks to 23 December were down 2.9% and post-Christmas performance was "disappointing".

James Grzinic, analyst at Jefferies, said: "Tesco's update confirmed a solid third quarter and Christmas, but not quite the dominant display expected by some".

Once a venerable British institution, M&S faces unrelenting competition on the high street and online, while efforts to revitalise its 134-year-old business are being held back by a squeeze on consumers as inflation rises and wage growth falters.

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The supermarket said it enjoyed "record sales and volumes" in the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day.

Marks and Spencer Group Plc (M&S) for the 13 weeks to December 30, 2017 reported 0.1 percent decline in group revenue to 3,167 million pounds (4,272 million dollars). To be fair, an unseasonal October could not have been predicted-though the revenue hit showed M&S's non-food inventory operation is still not as nimble as it could be.

Online sales also suffered, with growth slowing to 3 percent, from 6 percent in its second quarter.

Clothing and homeware fell 2.8 percent, food also dropped by 0.4 percent despite being seen as the most successful sector.

"Trading pressure continued into the lead up to Christmas".

It said "ongoing under-performance" in its food arm saw sales fall 0.4%.

"In the Christmas week itself (.) we sold more food than ever before at Tesco as we made our offer the most competitive it's been for many, many years", he told reporters.

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