United Kingdom supermarketSainsbury's has reported impressive online grocery sales and a "stellar growth in Argos Fast Track delivery and collection" in its third quarter trading statement.
With Britons under pressure from slow wage growth compounded by higher inflation, company updates and survey data this month show they cut back on nearly everything other than food purchases in the run-up to Christmas.
It expects to achieve £80-85m of EBITDA synergies from the Argos acquisition by March 2018 - ahead of the expected £65m.
The supermarket reported that like-for-like sales (excluding fuel) rose by 1.1 per cent in the 15 weeks to 6 January compared to the equivalent period the year before.
As a outcome underlying pretax profit for the full 2017-18 year would be moderately ahead of the published analysts' consensus - an underlying pretax profit of 559 million pounds ($755.77 million), down from 581 million in 2016-17.
Shares in Sainsbury's rose 1.5% following the release of its Christmas trading statement.
Sainsbury's did not break down the separate like-for-like sales performances of its supermarket and Argos businesses.
Grocery was the star performer with a 2.3 per cent rise though general merchandise was down 1.4 per cent.
However, the retailer warned that market conditions remain challenging due to an increase in inflation.
"We're pleased with our performance across the group this quarter". Sainsbury's opened 52 Argos stores inside supermarkets during the period, bringing the current total to 164.
On Tuesday Britain's fourth ranked supermarket chain Morrisons beat Christmas sales growth forecasts while industry data indicated market leaderTesco outperformed its listed rivals during the festive quarter.
Online sales - increasingly important for traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers - accounted for 20% of group sales during the quarter.
Total retail sales were up 1.2 per cent on previous year. German discount retailers, Aldi and Lidl, were both up 17%.
Argos, which Sainsbury's agreed to buy in 2016, saw record sales over the Black Friday period.
Chief executiveMike Coupe said the business enjoyed a "strong Christmas week" with record sales and more than 340,000 online grocery orders, as well as "stellar growth" in Argos fast-track delivery and collection.
The supermarket's Taste the Difference range performed particularly well, with customers buying more food from the premium range than previous year.
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