Sainsbury's cries foul on Tesco numbers

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A war of words - or sales numbers, to be accurate - has erupted between Sainsbury's and Tesco.

Having lunged for the Christmas sales crown with a claimed +0.9% climb in sales, Sainbury's boss Justin King isn't much chuffed with Tesco popping up behind him reclaiming it with a +1.8% Xmas sales boost. Who is the real Christmas winner, then?

Taste the difference

Sainsbury's is - behind the scenes, at least - considerably exercised about the issue. Yesterday it appears a Sainsbury's investor relations officer took the unusual step of contacting food retail analysts to tell them Tesco's new figures included sales from clubcard points.

Not genuine, bona fide sales and not fair, Sainsbury's said. Tesco claims they haven't done anything wrong. But strip out the Clubcard numbers and you get a +1.4% sales improvement - crucially, still ahead of Sainsbury's numbers.

Tesco will be keen to promote these figures - if accurate - given they look to be considerably better than last year's when Tesco sales actually sank -2.3%. There's also another issue.

Sensitive

One source close to this story told AOL Money Sainsbury's figures included numbers from recent store extensions. Remove these sales figures from the arithmetic and Sainsbury's claimed sales improvement of +0.9% on last year for the third quarter would almost halve, to just +0.5%.

So the arguments go on. Meanwhile Sainsbury's looks a little touchy on the issue. Although it saw record seasonal sales its overall like-for-like sales growth is at its lowest ebb for seven years, not helped by customers increasing plumping for own-brand products rather than more expensive branded offerings.

Has a Tesco bounce-back commenced? Tesco shares currently trade at the 351p, up from 339p in mid-December.

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