The chief executive of Asda has said he expects trading conditions in the grocery sector in 2013 to be as "tough" as this year and has called for the Government to "freeze" the rise in fuel duty planned for January.
Andy Clarke made his comments as he unveiled a slowdown in the Leeds-based supermarket's like-for-like sales in its last quarter, although he said it had "outperformed" the market.
On the scheduled 3p per litre rise in fuel duty, Mr Clarke said: "Families are under pressure so issues such as fuel duty could not be planned at a worse time just after Christmas."
Asda, which is owned by the US giant Walmart and has 555 stores, posted a meagre 0.3 per cent rise in like-for-like sales over the quarter to 29 September, which was ahead of Tesco and Morrisons but behind the 1.9 per cent growth at Sainsbury's.
Mr Clarke said: "Two thirds of mums have told us that 2013 will be as tough as this year."