Asda sales soar as customers splash out on premium

Leeds-based Asda on Thursday published earnings for the fourth quarter of 2020 covering the period from October 1 to December 31 showing like-for-like sales excluding fuel increasing by 5.1% — and increasing by 6.9% in the eight weeks to December 24.

“Asda’s growth during the period was driven by a notable shift in shopping behaviour with customers trading up and spending more on premium categories at Christmas to treat themselves after a difficult year,” said Asda.

“Demand for premium Extra Special lines increased significantly, particularly in the meat, fish and poultry categories, with sales in December up by 30% year on year.”

Walmart Inc. said on Tuesday the Blackburn-based Issa brothers and TDR Capital have completed the acquisition of a majority ownership stake in Asda from Walmart for an enterprise value of £6.8 billion, “on a debt-free and cash-free basis.”

Walmart said it will retain an equity investment in Asda, with an ongoing commercial relationship and a seat on the board.

Asda said on Thursday it continued to see strong growth in its online channel during the quarter, with combined net sales for Asda.com and George.com increasing 76% year-on-year.

This comes after Asda increased its grocery home shopping capacity by 90% to 850,000 weekly slots between March and December 2020.

Asda CEO Roger Burnley said: “Our focus on keeping prices low, providing great quality products and keeping customers safe when they visit our stores were key to delivering a strong performance across the quarter and particularly during the busy Christmas period.

“The festive season was like no other and I am proud of the way Asda colleagues responded to the exceptional circumstances they faced. It was only right that we recognised their hard work by closing our stores on Boxing Day so the vast majority of them could spend more time with their family during this period …

“As a business, we have demonstrated huge resilience during the last quarter – and year as a whole – supporting customers and communities during the most challenging of times.

“Helping local communities recover from the pandemic remains a key priority this year – as the recent launch of our in-store Covid vaccination service and starting the donation of 7,000 laptops to schools to tackle digital exclusion during lockdown shows.”

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Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.