LONDON (Reuters) - British consumer spending over the Christmas period held up better-than-expected at most large retail groups, providing some relief to a sector which had feared an escalating cost-of-living crisis would hit the key holiday sales period.
However, Official UK retail sales data for December for the overall sector showed a much weaker picture.
The British arm of German discount supermarket group Aldi said its sales in December rose 26% compared to the previous year. It highlighted strong growth in sales of fresh meat, with fresh poultry and pork options both up over 28%.
ASOS posted a 3% fall in revenues in the four months to the end of December. In Britain, its biggest market, sales fell 8%, hurt by weak consumer sentiment, Christmas delivery problems and a tough comparison against last year.
Discount retailer B&M said comparable sales rose 6.4% in its key Christmas quarter, showing that shoppers sought out value options as they grappled with the cost-of-living crisis.
Online fashion retailer Boohoo said revenue fell 11% in its key Christmas trading period, the four months to the end of December.
Health and beauty products retailer Boots UK said its December retail sales were up around 15% year-on-year, highlighting strong sales in gifting and fragrance categories.
Electrical retailer Currys said like-for-like revenue in its UK and Ireland business fell 5% in the 10 weeks to Jan. 7, partly reflecting high levels of sales seen over the last two pandemic-hit years but also weak demand for computers and TVs.
Dunelm, which sells furnishings ranging from cushions and bedding to kitchen equipment, said total sales were up 18% for the 13 weeks to Dec. 31 compared to the same period a year ago.
Fast food chain Greggs said its festive bakes, mince pies and salted caramel lattes, along with breakfast and lunch offers, appealed to cash-strapped Christmas shoppers, helping like-for-like sales rise 18.2% in its final quarter.
Halfords posted total revenue growth of 21.7% for its fiscal third quarter, the 13-week period ended Dec.31, but cut its annual profit forecast on weaker demand for bicycles.
Sports fashion retailer JD Sports reported total revenue growth of over 20% in the six weeks to Dec. 31.
The British arm of German discounter Lidl said sales rose 24.5% in the four weeks to Dec. 25 compared to the previous year.
MARKS & SPENCER
Marks & Spencer, posted quarterly like-for-like food sales growth of 6.3%, and an 8.6% rise in clothing and home sales.
British clothing retailer Next beat forecasts posting a 4.8% rise in full price sales in the nine weeks to Dec. 30, highlighting a boost from a cold snap in December which helped jackets and coats fly off the shelves.
Ocado Retail, a 50/50 joint venture between Ocado Group and Marks & Spencer, said its sales were up 15% over the five days before Christmas.
Supermarket chain Sainsbury's posted a 5.9% rise in underlying sales for the Christmas quarter.
Tesco reported a better-than-expected 4.3% rise in underlying UK sales in the quarter to Nov. 26, and a 7.2% rise in the six weeks to Jan. 7.
(Reporting by UK bureau)