Tesco posts festive sales surge as pandemic costs set to soar to £810m

Tesco said a surge in Christmas food shopping has driven “strong” recent sales which are expected to help offset soaring coronavirus costs.

The supermarket giant is the latest grocer to report positive sales momentum over the Christmas period amid heightened Covid-19 restrictions.

However, it now expects the pandemic to cost it £810 million this year, with the increased severity of the virus in recent months causing it to increase its previous prediction by £85 million.

The retailer said group like-for-like sales increased by 6.1% over the 19 weeks to January 9, as it was particularly buoyed by 8.1% growth during the final six weeks of the period.

Tesco said online sales grew by more than 80% over the 19 weeks, as staff delivered more than seven million Christmas orders.

It told investors on Thursday that its large stores have seen sales grow strongly as customers favour bigger but less frequent shopping trips.

In the update to the stock market, the group also said its “comprehensive preparations and our strong relationships with suppliers” have allowed it to maintain strong levels of availability during the Brexit transition period.

Ken Murphy
Ken Murphy

Chief executive Ken Murphy said: “Our focus on looking after our customers, including delivering record availability, robust safety measures and great value, has enabled us to maintain strong momentum through the Christmas period, outperforming the market every week.

“We delivered a record Christmas across all of our formats and channels.

“Our colleagues went above and beyond, rising to every challenge in the most exceptional of circumstances and I thank every one of them for this.

“We’re in great shape to keep delivering in 2021 and beyond.”