Waitrose posts 9.4% rise in sales
Supermarket chain Waitrose has posted a sales rise of 9.4% in the first week of its campaign to price match Tesco on 1,000 branded products.
The sales figure of £92.9 million for the seven days to last Saturday was broadly similar to the performance a week earlier and represented a 23.5% jump on the same week two years earlier.
Waitrose said customers "responded positively" to the price initiative, which covers staples such as Heinz baked beans and household basics including Persil. It is the first time the chain has adopted price-matching tactics associated with budget rivals such as Asda and Morrisons.
Seymour Pierce analyst Freddie George said the size of last week's sales increase suggested the price-match initiative had not had the same impact as the introduction of the chain's Essentials basics range 18 months ago.
Waitrose - part of the John Lewis Partnership - generates £4.5 billion a year in sales, with operating profits of £268 million in its last financial year.
Elsewhere in the John Lewis business, department store sales rose 14% during a "fantastic week" for the 30-strong chain.
Stores at London's Oxford Street and Cambridge saw sales growth of around 17% but the strongest performance of the week to last Saturday came from the company's online operation, which posted sales growth of 57%.
Across the business, all three buying departments of fashion, home and electricals reported double-digit sales growth during the period.
Mr George said it had been an outstanding week for the department stores division, fuelling hopes that the sector will be able to ride out current worries over the impact of austerity measures. He added: "We are becoming more and more confident about the outlook for the general retail sector.
"We believe the government will temper the announcement of the October 20 spending cuts by bringing them in over a number of years. We also sense that the apparel retailers are raising prices across the board to offset the impact of the VAT increases."