Greggs might have sold a record 8.5 million mince pies over Christmas but that was not enough to prevent sales from its shops which have been open at least a year sliding back by 2.9 per cent.
"That's actually a pretty resilient performance," said chief executive Ken McMeikan, who is off to run catering suppliers Brakes once his successor has been appointed. "We were up against very strong comparatives from 2011 when Christmas Day and New Year's Day fell on Sundays, which are our quietest days of the week. In fact, the fewer shopping hours we had over this Christmas probably accounted for 2 per cent of the fall in like-for-like sales."
Mr McMeikan added that torrential rain and floods in the run-up to Christmas were also a problem, hitting sales by as much as 3 per cent to 5 per cent in any one week.
Greggs said with new openings and sales of new product lines, such as its frozen sausage rolls at Iceland, total sales for the five weeks to 7 January rose 4.3 per cent.