Cold spell heats up sales at Morrisons
Like-for-like sales at supermarket chain Morrisons, which is headed by Wicklow native Dalton Philips, climbed 1pc in the six weeks to January 2, beating analyst expectations.
The cold weather and snow prompted more consumers to head for supermarkets rather than other shops before Christmas in a trend that will also have helped Tesco and Sainsbury. Shares in Morrisons closed flat at £2.71 (€3.26).
Meanwhile, British department store operator Debenhams said it continued to gain market share in the 19 weeks to January 8 but posted a 1.3pc decline in like-for-like sales for the period as bad weather impacted on retailers in the run-up to Christmas.
Debenhams is the latest high-street heavyweight to report dented sales over Christmas as shoppers were hampered by heavy snow.
HMV and Next are among the other casualties, while Marks & Spencer will today tell the market how it fared in the third quarter that includes Christmas, while Tesco will report Christmas trading figures on Thursday.
Debenhams, which is the second largest clothing retailer in the UK and which operates 11 stores in Ireland, added that its gross margin for the period was ahead of the figure recorded in the corresponding period in 2009.
Chief executive Rob Templeman described the performance as "pleasing" given the disruption caused in the run-up to Christmas by adverse weather. He said that freeze had negatively impacted on like-for-like sales by between 2.5pc and 3pc in the 19-week period.
He remained cautious about the "robustness of sentiment" for the remainder of the year.