Asda boss: Customers shopping for ‘very different Christmas’ amid pandemic

The boss of Asda has said it is gearing up for a “very different Christmas”, with customers starting their preparations earlier than normal and buying smaller turkeys.

The retailer said sales of frozen turkey crowns – which typically serve three or four people – have surged 230% year-on-year as it revealed sales jumped higher in its latest quarter.

Asda has revealed that sales over the three months to September 30 increased by 2.7% after it was buoyed by continued online growth during the pandemic.

It comes a month after the supermarket chain agreed to be taken over by petrol forecourt firm EG Group and private equity firm TDR Capital in a £6.8 billion deal. The move is expected to complete next year.

The chain said the increase in total sales over the three months to September 30 was driven by “strong” sales in its core grocery business, back-to-school clothing and online shopping.

Sales through and increased by 72% for the quarter against the same period last year, it said.

The Leeds-based business also highlighted that sales in recent weeks have been boosted by positive early sales of Christmas items.

It revealed that sales of Christmas trees have risen by 83% year-on-year, while festive lights have increased by 57%, Christmas puddings by 71% and mince pies by 44%.

Roger Burnley, Asda chief executive officer and president, said: “After a rollercoaster year it’s clear our customers are already planning for a very different Christmas.

Roger Burnley
Roger Burnley

“We have already seen a marked shift in buying patterns with customers stocking up their freezers and cupboards with festive essentials earlier than ever before, which suggests they are getting used to expecting the unexpected but preparing to enjoy themselves as much as possible.

“Whatever happens during the next few weeks, we are totally focused on delivering a great Christmas for our customers during these uncertain times.”

It comes after a bumper year for supermarket chains, which have seen strong sales through the pandemic after remaining open through lockdown restrictions due to essential status.

Retailers have also benefited from a business rates holiday for the current financial year, although Asda said on Tuesday that “significant” costs related to Covid-19 have exceeded its tax break for the year so far.

Mr Burnley said: “Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to do everything we can to protect our customers, colleagues and our communities and we will continue to do so for as long as Covid is part of our lives.”