Walmart blames Easter timing for Asda sales fall

Asda checkout worker

Asda owner Walmart has blamed Easter dates and a "challenging" retail environment for a fall in first quarter like-for-like sales.

Walmart chief financial officer, Brett Biggs said:

"The Easter calendar shift negatively affected several of our markets, including Asda where comps declined 1.1%, but would have been positive without the Easter flip.

"Against a challenging backdrop in the UK, Asda comp sales declined with the Easter flip, but transactions were positive as customer experience continued to improve."

Walmart 'considering Asda flotation'

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Sainsbury's tops the FTSE

Sainsbury's sign
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Sainsbury's shares are the biggest risers the FTSE this morning after better than expected full year underlying profit.

Shares in the supermarket giant are up more than 4.7% to 232.95p. Bear in mind, however, that shares tumbled in February from about 288p after a proposed merger between Sainsbury's and rival Asda was dealt a blow by the competition watchdog.

Sainsbury's regains second place from Asda

Supermarket market share graphic

Sainsbury's has regained its place as the UK's second largest supermarket from Asda, according to the latest market data from research from Kantar.

The two chains - who saw their attempt to merge scuppered last week by the UK's competition authority - have been neck-and-neck for some time.

Last month, Asda overtook Sainsbury's. However, Kantar say Sainsbury's has now reclaimed second slot with a 15.4% share in 12 weeks to 21 April, compared with Asda's 15.2%.

The discount chains remain a threat however, with Lidl’s market share hitting a new high of 5.7%,

Overall it was a good period for the grocery sector, Kantar said. Total year-on-year sales increased by 2% during the period, helped by a "record-breaking" £2.5bn spent during the Easter week.

Sainsbury's-Asda merger 'would have harmed competition'.
The competition watchdog blocks the Sainsbury's-Asda merger, warning it would leave consumers worse off.