Morrisons said its Christmas performance was "disappointing"

Morrisons said its Christmas performance was "disappointing"

Morrisons today (9 January) reported a near-6% drop in like-for-like sales over Christmas, sending shares in the UK's fourth-largest grocer sliding.

The company said its like-for-like sales fell 5.6% excluding fuel in the six weeks to 5 January. Total sales excluding fuel decreased 1.9%.

Morrisons expects its annual underlying profits to be "towards the bottom end" of current market expectations. City forecasts for Morrisons' underlying operating profit range from GBP783m (US$1.29bn) to GBP853m.

Morrisons said "hard-pressed" consumers were "buying less and shopping selectively across a range of formats and retailers".

It claimed the "accelerating importance" of the convenience and online channels - where the retailer has lagged its rivals - and "targeted couponing" by competitors "intensified" what it called "difficult market conditions".

The retailer's like-for-like sales have fallen in each of the first three quarters in its current financial year.

Morrisons is building its presence in the convenience sector and online. It has 85 c-stores and wants 200 by the end of its 2014/15 fiscal year. The retailer will make its first home deliveries through its venture with Ocado tomorrow.

Shares in Morrisons were down 6.41% at 237.9p at 11:20 GMT.

Click here for a round-up of what retail analysts thought about Morrisons' results.