Leeds-based Asda has published earnings for the third quarter of 2020 showing a surge in demand for Christmas products and “lockdown proof” festive essentials as customers start their preparations earlier than in previous years.
The trading quarter, which coincided with the end of the first UK-wide lockdown and the re-opening of the hospitality sector, saw Asda’s like-for-like sales excluding fuel increase by 2.7%.
Asda’s growth during the period was driven by strong performance in core grocery, back to school clothing and online shopping, with combined net sales for Asda.com and George.com increasing by 72% year-on-year.
The supermarket said it expects this rapid growth in online shopping to continue during Q4 and has increased the capacity of its grocery home shopping service to 765,000 weekly slots in response.
Asda has also extended its delivery partnerships trial with Uber Eats from 50 to 100 stores.
The acquisition of Asda by the Issa brothers and TDR Capital remains on track to complete in the first half of 2021, subject to regulatory approval.
Blackburn-based petrol station billionaires the Issa brothers and funds managed by London-based private equity firm TDR Capital LLP announced last month they agreed to buy Asda from Walmart Inc. for an enterprise value of £6.8 billion.
The Issa brothers are the founders and co-CEOs of EG Group, a global convenience and petrol station forecourts retailer, headquartered in Blackburn.
“Asda is already seeing a surge in demand for Christmas products and ‘lockdown proof’ festive essentials as customers start their preparations earlier than in previous years.,” said the company.
“Sales of Christmas trees have increased by 83% year-on-year, festive lights by 57%, Christmas puddings by 71% and mince pies by 44%.
“There are also signs that customers are preparing to celebrate Christmas differently this year with smaller gatherings rather than larger groups due to restrictions on meeting friends and family.
“Sales of frozen turkey crowns, which typically serve 3-4 people, have increased by 230% year-on-year.”
Asda CEO Roger Burnley said: “After a rollercoaster year it’s clear our customers are already planning for a very different Christmas.
“We have already seen a marked shift in buying patterns with customers stocking up their freezers and cupboards with festive essentials earlier than ever before, which suggests they are getting used to expecting the unexpected but preparing to enjoy themselves as much as possible.
“Whatever happens during the next few weeks, we are totally focused on delivering a great Christmas for our customers during these uncertain times.”