Analysts praised Waitrose online and premium offering over Christmas

Analysts praised Waitrose' online and premium offering over Christmas

The Christmas performance of upmarket UK retailer Waitrose has been lauded by analysts.

Waitrose earlier today (5 January) said its grocery sales rose 9.5% in December year-on-year, while like-for-like sales jumped 3.8%.

Neil Saunders, MD of retail analysis firm Conlumino, said the jump was impressive as it was made against a macro-economic background of consumer spending cuts and with 2010 was also being a strong year for the retailer.

He said: "We believe the performance is testament to Waitrose's strategy of successfully balancing the price-quality equation which allows consumers to receive value on everyday products but trade up to premium products when they wish. This is something that works particularly well at Christmas when consumers are torn between being frugal and splashing out.

"The growth in online is a particular success story after the initial problems with the relaunch of the website. They demonstrate the potential of the Internet as a growth channel for Waitrose, especially over the next year, especially within London where the service has recently been launched."

This trend for trading up was also noted by Cliona Lynch, senior retail analyst at Verdict.

She said: "This is particularly evident at Christmas where entertaining friends and family with indulgent foods is a priority. Consumers increased spend on entertaining at home to compensate for less disposable income in dining out over the festive season. The quality and added value associated with Waitrose's Christmas offer negated some of the shopper price sensitivity which has risen with inflation throughout 2011."

She added that Waitrose' quality food message, backed by a strong Christmas marketing campaign with Heston Blumenthal and Delia Smith, has ensured the retailer a strong start to 2012.