Morrisons has reported a slowdown in sales in the run-up to Christmas, underlining the fierce competition in the supermarket sector over the crucial period.
The Bradford-based company, which has some 450 stores in the UK, saw like-for-like sales excluding VAT and fuel increase 0.7% in the six weeks to January 1, compared with 2.4% in the previous quarter. The City had expected sales growth of 1%.
The slowdown came despite Morrisons, the fourth biggest supermarket in the UK, claiming a record number of customers, with an extra 800,000 per week shopping there during the period.
The battle for sales gathered pace in early October when Tesco introduced its Big Price Drop, prompting Sainsbury's to launch a price-matching scheme and Asda to slash petrol prices.