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Champagne and salmon boost Christmas sales at Morrisons

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Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
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NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME- NOVEMBER 13:  A logo of Supermarket company, Morrisons is seen outside one of its stores on November 13, 2020 in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire . (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
A logo of Supermarket company, Morrisons is seen outside one of its stores on November 13, 2020 in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire. Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Morrisons (MRW.L) enjoyed a bumper Christmas, the supermarket said on Tuesday, as new data showed Brits spent a record £11.7bn ($15.9bn) on festive food and drink from grocers.

Morrisons said on Tuesday that sales excluding fuel were up 9.3% over Christmas and New Year. Sales were up 8.1% in the 22 weeks to 3 January.

Champagne sales jumped 64% compared to last year and sales of whole salmon rose by 40%, as Brits stuck at home treated themselves.

“I'm very pleased with the way the Morrisons team has helped our customers across the nation enjoy their Christmas in the best way they could,” chief executive Dave Potts said.

News of Morrisons strong sales came as market research firm Kantar said the entire sector enjoyed a bumper holiday period. Kantar said December was the busiest month in history for the UK grocery sector, with shoppers spending a record £11.7bn at the tills.

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Kantar’s data shows all supermarkets saw sales growth over Christmas, with Iceland and Ocado (OCDO.L) the best performers. Ocado grew sales by 36% to just over half a billion pounds, while Iceland’s sales jumped by 20%.

“December is always an incredibly busy time for supermarkets, but take-home grocery shopping is usually supplemented by celebrations in restaurants, pubs and bars – with £4 billion spent on food and drink, excluding alcohol, out of the home during the normal festive month,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar. “This year, almost all those meals were eaten at home.”

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Morrisons said the “extremely unpredictable current circumstances” of the pandemic made it “difficult” to predict what future business would look like this year. The supermarket said it was on track to hit a previously guided range of profits for the year but recent changes to COVID-19 restrictions in the UK had added £10m to its costs. It takes the total cost of the pandemic to £280m for Morrisons.

Shares in Morrisons rose 0.9% in early trade in London. Shares in Ocado rose 2%.

Morrisons is the first major UK grocery to report holiday trade. On Monday, Aldi reported a 10% rise in festive trading and record-breaking holiday period.

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