Morrisons slows slide in sales

Struggling supermarket Morrisons remains under pressure despite a slowdown in the pace of recent sales falls.

The latest decline in underlying sales of 1.8% was roughly in line with City expectations for the three months to May 5, after suffering a fall of 4.1% in the previous quarter.
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The grocer said plans to launch an online food operation by January 2014 were "progressing" and it was continuing partnership discussions with internet retailer Ocado.

Chief executive Dalton Philips admitted that the supermarket was two decades behind its competitors who have had an internet presence since the 1990s.

Shares opened lower as analysts said they remained unconvinced by the chain's performance, with Clive Black of Shore Capital retaining his 'sell' rating and noting it would take some years for investment in online, non-food and convenience stores to pay off.

In the wake of a 7% drop in full-year profits to £879 million, it emerged this week that Mr Philips missed out on his annual bonus as a result of the below-par trading. He said that the Bradford-based chain had made a solid start to the new financial year: "Our promotions have been more innovative and we are explaining Morrisons points of difference more effectively."

He said the horse meat scandal had boosted customer recognition that the company's supply chain arrangement meant it was "best placed to sell food that is what it says it is".

Mr Philips added: "Strategically, our ambition of building a genuinely multi-format, multi-channel Morrisons is right on track." The supermarket said that while it remained "cautious" about the economic outlook and consumer spending, full-year expectations were unchanged.

Figures from last month showed its market share had shrunk to 11.5% from 11.9% a year earlier. It has suffered from squeezed household budgets, weak advertising and pressure from rivals. Morrisons said the industry remained "very competitive".

John Ibbotson, director of retail consultancy Retail Vision, said Morrisons was being "consistently outpaced" by rivals Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's while losing customers to discount chains Aldi and Lidl in its northern heartlands.

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Seven of the craziest supermarket glitches
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Morrisons slows slide in sales

One of the most popular glitches, was a wine deal at Tesco back in November 2012, where a series of offers clashed, leaving a bottle of £9.99 wine selling for £1.50.

The 'three wines for £10' deal apparently clashed with a '25% off when you buy six or more bottles' deal. The 25% was accidentally taken off the original price rather than the reduced one, leaving the wine at rock bottom prices. Deal-hunters cleared the shelves around the country.

Perhaps the most popular glitch from Tesco came in June 2011, when instead of taking £4 off the cost of a £20 case of beer, the supermarket accidentally started selling the cases for £4. The ensuring rush was nicknamed the 'beer stampede'.

Sadly not every supermarket pricing glitch comes with such a happy ending for consumers. In March last year the bargain-hunters thought their luck was in, when Tesco accidentally priced the new iPad at just £44.99 instead of around £650. Sadly it spotted the mistake before shipping the goods. The small print on its website meant it could refuse to sell at this price, and refund their customers instead.

In September 2012, Asda was responsible for one of the most expensive glitches. The Asda Price Guarantee offered vouchers to customers who could have got their shopping cheaper elsewhere.

However, when certain trigger products were in the basket, the supermarket massively under-priced the shopping at other supermarkets, and offered huge vouchers to shoppers. In many instances the vouchers came to roughly the same as the cost of the shopping.

In April, a mistake on their website resulted in Tesco selling 8 packs of Bulmers cider 568ml bottles for £5 - rather than a six pack for £8.

Deal-hunters snapped up the deal online, and had varying degrees of success. Some had their order delivered in full, others had six delivered for £5 - and were able to negotiate their way to another two, while others were offered six for £5 or their money back.

October last year saw one of the most famous glitches, when Tesco Terry's Chocolate Oranges were subject to two deals at the same time, and the price dropped from £2.75 to 29p. There were plenty of people getting chocolate oranges last Christmas.

A buy-one-get-one-free deal went awry at Tesco in March. People putting four tubs of I can't Believe It's Not Butter or Oykos yogurt packs into the trolley were only being charged for one.

Soon the online deal-hunting community was in action, with one person bagging 50 tubs of butter and 22 pots of yogurt for £8.79 - a saving of £133.89.

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