Supermarket giant Asda has delivered a strong first quarter thanks to an increase in customer traffic driven by lower prices and strong seasonal events.
Like for like sales - excluding petrol - increased by 6.4 per cent, taking into account the early Easter and the effect of the extra leap day (five per cent with these benefits stripped out). Total sales increased in the 'high single digits' for the period up to March 31st.
Asda outperformed the market for the eighth consecutive quarter with market share up 0.3 per cent year-on-year in the 12 weeks to April 20th.
The chain has continued to lower prices across the weekly shop, maintaining its position as price leader in the supermarket sector.
"Asda has continued to win in the UK - delivering a strong first quarter, with 30 basis points of market share growth, despite a challenging economic environment," said Mike Duke, Wal-Mart international vice chairman. "Although we expect the UK to remain a challenging economy and retail market over the rest of the year, we believe that our strong pricing agenda, backed by a cost reduction programme leaves us well positioned to continue to make market share there."
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart itself said its year was off to a solid start - with net income rising to $3.02 billion in the first quarter ending April 30th, from $2.83 billion a year earlier.
However, Wal-Mart indicated results for this quarter could miss Wall Street estimates as it contends with a tough economic environment, higher transportation costs and customers who are running out of money between paychecks.