United Kingdom supermarket retailers reveal festive financial reports

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Tesco has reported a "strong" third quarter, with like-for-like sales in the United Kingdom and Ireland up by 2.3 per cent. Echoing sentiment from peer Sainsbury's yesterday, Tesco announced weak general merchandise sales, with strength in food unable to lift wider United Kingdom sales figures to meet estimates.

Marks and Spencer Group Plc (M&S) for the 13 weeks to December 30, 2017 reported 0.1 percent decline in group revenue to 3,167 million pounds (4,272 million dollars).

The results represented the company's eighth consecutive quarter of growth and continued market outperformance, it claimed.

Record Christmas sales helped Sainsbury's increase its market share of turkey over the festive period, according to third-quarter results covering 15 weeks to 6 January 2018.

Non-tobacco sales at Booker Food Group, subject of a £3.7bn Tesco takeover, rose by 5.9% in the third quarter.

Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: "We have continued to outperform the market throughout this period, particularly in fresh food, thanks to our most competitive offer for many years".

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The hike announced on Thursday will also increase the average hourly pay for full-time employees to $14.50 from a current $13.85. Parental leave has been another area in which retailers including Target and Ikea have been trying to offer better benefits.

The M&S boss said that despite the sales dip, he believed the retailer was right to resist the Black Friday discounting frenzy as it focused on restoring its price positioning.

It added that trading since December 23 has been mixed following "disappointing" sales in the week after Christmas, although it has halted sales declines in store and online since New Year's Day.

United Kingdom shares were marginally higher on Thursday as the pound weakened against the dollar and euro, helping offset weak earnings updates from the likes of Tesco and Marks & Spencer Group.

Debenhams and Mothercare have both issued profit warnings, John Lewis [JLPLC.UL] said on Thursday that higher costs and tough competition had blunted the benefits of solid Christmas sales, while House of Fraser saw its sales fall.

Taking the 19 week period as a whole, LFL sales in Central Europe, rose 0.6%, and fell 11.1% in Asia. It upgraded its full-year profit forecast following the solid overall performance, but saw non-food sales, including Argos, fall 1.4% and warned of a challenging market.