Sainsbury’s sales slide as Aldi continues rapid growth

Supermarket chain expected to reveal fall in profits as rivals gain from warm Easter weather

Sainsbury’s was the only major supermarket chain to suffer a drop in sales over Easter, bucking the trend among its rivals, which reaped the benefits of the warm weather.

The grocery chain’s sales fell 1.2% in the three months to 21 April according to the latest industry data from market researcher Kantar, while the grocery sector as a whole grew 2%, its fastest rate this year. Shoppers spent a record £2.5bn at Easter as higher temperatures boosted sales of ice-cream and hay fever remedies.

In the latest run of bad news for Sainsbury’s after its planned £7bn merger with Asda was blocked last week by the competition watchdog, it was the worst performer, not only among the big four supermarkets, but also behind smaller rivals including Iceland and Co-op.

Kantar’s view of Sainsbury’s performance is partly affected by the installation of Argos outlets in its stores, so that general merchandise sales once registered by the supermarket are now clocked up at the catalogue shop.

But the fall in sales at Sainsbury’s will add to pressure on chief executive Mike Coupe, who is expected to reveal a back-to-basics strategy for the business on Wednesday after the Competition and Markets Authority crushed his merger plans.

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