Sainsbury’s has hailed Christmas 2014 as its “biggest to date” for its online groceries business, but this was not enough to halt a decline in sales in the key festive trading period.
In the three days to 23 December, the supermarket’s online team delivered more than 110,000 orders, Sainsbury’s said in a trading update today for its third quarter, with online sales up six percent. However, total sales were down 0.4 percent.
The online growth was also likely to be less than that of rivals, Sainsbury’s has admitted, though it denies this was due to delivery problems that occurred in the run-up to Christmas.
At the time, Sainsbury’s blamed ‘technical problems’ on its website for issues that meant that about 500 customers’ online groceries orders would not be fulfilled on time for Christmas, with some being offered deliveries after Christmas instead.
John Rogers, Sainsbury’s finance director, said that the low growth was because the company did not offer as many vouchers and discounts to customers as rivals have in a bid to grow their online groceries businesses. Ocado, for example, regularly offers £20 to £25 off customers’ first orders.
Today’s reported sales decline was not as bad as Sainsbury’s had been expecting, but the company still warned that the next year would continue to be “challenging”.
A number of retailers are providing trading updates this week, and Sainsbury’s follows John Lewis and House of Fraser, which announced strong online sales on the back of US shopping phenomenon Black Friday.
Image credit: Sainsbury's