Shares in supermarket Morrisons are down over 3 per cent after the group’s retail sales started to slow in the three months to 4 November.
Prior to this, the supermarket’s retail sales had been given a boost by consumers enjoying a hot summer and the World Cup food tournament.
In the third quarter, the group’s like-for-like retail sales increased by 1.3 per cent, down from the 2.5 per cent rise in the second quarter.
Like-for-like: In the third quarter, the group’s like-for-like retail sales increased by 1.3 per cent
The group’s total like-for-like sales, excluding fuel but including retail and wholesale operations, rose by 5.6 per cent in the third quarter, against a 6.3 per cent rise recorded in the second quarter.
Shares in Morrisons are down 3.91 per cent or 9.95p to 244.6p. Rival Tesco’s shares are trading down 1.20 per cent to 214.80p and Sainsbury’s share price is down 0.37 per cent to 312.05p.
At the beginning of the year, shares in Morrisons were trading at around 225.2p. Rewind to December 2015 and the share price was down to as low as 148.2p.
While retail like-for-like sales started to cool in the last quarter, the group’s wholesale arm is performing well, enjoying a 4.3 per cent rise in like-for-like sales over the quarter.
Analysts at Jefferies said that the growth figures were slightly below expectations, but still ‘confirm solid progress in a sector-relative context’ amid an industry-wide cooling of sales since the summer.
Chief executive David Potts said: ‘After another period of strong growth, and with more customers enjoying shopping at Morrisons, we have now completed three years of positive like for like.
‘Our exceptional team of food makers and shopkeepers are providing good-quality food at great prices, and building a broader offer in store, online and for our wholesale customers.’
The supermarket sector is gearing up for the crucial Christmas period.
In January, the group reported that its 2017 Christmas trading had been particularly strong with sales for the last six weeks of the year up 3.7 per cent compared to a year earlier.
Looking to this Christmas, Morrisons said it expects its ‘Best All Butter Deep Filled Mince Pies’, ‘Free From Mince Pies’ and ‘Best Poinsettia Hand Decorated Christmas Cake’ to fare well in the festive season.
The supermarket also said it ‘wonky’ vegetable range was still proving popular with shoppers. The retailer has also been putting more loose fruit and vegetables on sale, in light of consumer awareness over the perils of plastic waste.
Fluctuations: Morrisons’ share price data for the last year
Easing up on plastic: Morrisons has been putting more loose fruit and vegetables on sale, in light of consumer awareness over the perils of plastic waste
Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director from Fidelity Personal Investing’s share dealing service, said: ‘Morrisons has high hopes that ‘wonky’ carrots and parsnips will be on shopper’s lists this Christmas as it showed today that its’ holding its own in the competitive supermarket sector.
‘Morrisons is clearly open to new opportunities and its wholesale business is growing as today’s trading update show. It already delivers via Ocado and supplies corner shops and Amazon.
‘But Amazon ultimately remains the enemy of the sector, not an ally. Pressure is continuing to mount, as we’ve seen, with Sainsbury’s buying up Argos and now Asda in an attempt to beef up its operations.
‘And that’s not forgetting the double-pronged threat from German discounters Aldi and Lidl, which Morrisons is well aware of.’
Share data: Chart showing Morrrisons’ share price for the last five years