TWO of the nation’s biggest retailers, Tesco and Marks & Spencer, toasted their festive sales last night amid signs hard-pressed Brits still splurged at Christmas.
M&S sold 725,000 light-up biscuit tins this Christmas[/caption]
M&S also sold 150,000 sequinned products[/caption]
And M&S chief Stuart Machin said a rush to be party-ready saw it sell 150,000 sequinned products and 725,000 light-up biscuit tins.
The strong sales gave Tesco confidence to boost profit forecasts to £2.7billion for the year.
But Mr Murphy said cost-conscious shoppers meant that even the UK’s biggest grocer had to “fight for every single basket”.
He said it was too early to call an end to the cost-of-living crisis, but added that falling interest rates and easing inflation mean Brits should feel more chipper.
In the Christmas run-up, around 80 per cent of Tesco purchases were made using Clubcard, which offers cheaper prices for members.
Mr Murphy credited lower prices for luring shoppers and driving up retail sales up by 6.6 per cent in the last quarter.
He vowed: “My commitment is to be the cheapest full-line grocer.”
Meanwhile, the lack of a profit upgrade at M&S overshadowed the retailer’s best Christmas performance in years.
Tetchy markets knocked its shares down by five per cent as M&S cautioned about higher costs from wage hikes and business rates increases.
However, boss Mr Machin shrugged off the market nervousness and said it was “right to be over cautious and not to over promise” after years of false dawns.
Despite yesterday’s sell-off, M&S shares are still worth 80 per cent more than a year ago — meaning staff who put in £150 a month into its share save scheme will gain over £10,000.
M&S’s Christmas trading showed its turnaround has taken shape with food sales rising by 10.5 per cent on the back of selling more basic, cheaper groceries to more customers than ever.
Its long-suffering clothing department has also sparkled back to life with a 4.8 per cent rise in sales, helped by a 11 per cent surge in its partywear.
M&S now sells 92 other fashion brands online and food on Ocado rather than just relying on its own stock and stores.
Mr Machin summed up the turnaround by saying: “I think we are becoming a different M&S”.
Tesco boss Ken Murphy said after years of Covid-related disruption, customers were ‘really determined to enjoy Christmas’[/caption]
Ikea cut to prices
IKEA is making £100million worth of price cuts as the Swedish furniture giant passes on falling inflation.
The flat-pack firm said it would lower prices on 1,500 items immediately and 2,500 would be reduced by spring.
IKEA said it was making the reductions after its own pressures eased.
It previously raised item prices by up to 80 per cent when the cost of raw materials and shipping fees spiked after the pandemic.
Inflation risk from Red Sea
The boss of Maersk, Vincent Clerc, said diversions were “putting inflationary pressure on our costs, on our customers and ultimately on consumers”.
The moment HMS Diamond shot down seven of the 18 drones launched by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea[/caption]
He said it could “have significant consequences on global growth”.
HMS Diamond was also fired on.
Around 90 per cent of shipping containers have been diverted from the Suez Canal to a much longer route around Africa, adding almost two weeks to journey times and extra costs.
Figures yesterday showed global trade dropped by 1.3 per cent.
Experts at Third Bridge said that freight rates could treble and those costs could be passed on to consumers.
Inn the money
THE owner of Premier Inn has claimed it is beating its budget rivals amid growing demand for cheap rooms.
Whitbread said total sales were up eight per cent while hotel revenues rose 11 per cent.
Boss Dominic Paul said: “Robust demand for our hotels is driving high levels of occupancy and strong pricing.”
The average room rate was £82.30 in the latest quarter, down from £90.01 over the previous three months.
Whitbread also revealed that food and beverage sales grew by six per cent year on year.
Top spot for Microsoft
MICROSOFT beat Apple to become the world’s most valuable company.
Microsoft’s shares rose by 1 per cent to value the company at $2.87trillion (£2.2trillion) from interest in AI.
But Apple’s falling iPhone sales have worried investors.
Unpaid bill rise
THE number of Brits not paying their energy bills has surged by 40 per cent in the past year.
In December, 1.17 per cent of direct debit payments for energy bills failed, compared to 0.84 per cent a year earlier.
Mortgage payment failures also rose to 0.46 per cent, up from 0.38 per cent.
Even with mortgage rates falling recently, home loan costs soared last year as interest rates hiked.
The energy regulator has proposed raising bills by £16 to cover the bad debts.