Not so merry at Christmas: Disappointing sales for some UK grocers over the holidays

LONDON – Some major U.K. retailers are reporting dismals sales in the critical Christmas period despite a rise in consumer confidence.

Tesco, Britain’s largest retailer by revenue, said sales in the U.K. dropped 2.4 per cent in the six weeks to Jan. 4 when not counting new store openings. CEO Philip Clarke blamed “further weakness” in the grocery market.

Things were worse at Morrisons, which reported a drop of 5.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer saw a slump of 2.1 per cent as it continues to struggle with clothing sales. CEO Marc Bolland says food sales grew 1.6 per cent.

James McGregor, a consultant at Retail Remedy, says M&S has difficulty attracting the young: there’s the “danger of turning up to your grandmother’s 80th to find you are both wearing the same M&S dress.”