Tesco and M&S lift outlook after strong Christmas

Tesco and Marks & Spencer both raised their profit outlooks on Thursday (January 13) after a strong rise in Christmas sales.

It was the second time in four months Tesco had done so.

Britain's biggest retailer said UK sales rose even compared with the blockbuster numbers seen a year earlier.

They were up just over 0.3% during the six weeks to January 8th.

The stronger than expected sales saw Tesco lift its profit outlook for the coming year to as much as 2.6 billion pounds - or about $3.6 billion.

Tesco also said third-quarter UK sales were up even on pre-crisis levels, as were sales over the Christmas period.

Marks and Spencer also saw positive signs over the holidays.

Sales, particularly of food, outperformed the market.

The retailer said it now expected full-year profit to be at least 500 million pounds - or about $686 million.

Food sales rose more than 12% against its pre-health crisis performance two years ago over the last 13 weeks of the year - above market forecasts.

Clothing and home sales also performed well for the company.

The profit upgrades for M&S and Tesco follows one from rival Sainsbury's on Wednesday (January 12).

However, shares in both companies were down in early trade, with M&S tumbling as much as 6%.

One analyst told Reuters that markets had expected even more bullish updates.

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