Morrisons’ recent struggles continue after the group today posted an 8.2% fall in like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to 4 May.
Excluding fuel, total first quarter sales were down by 4.2% and like-for-like sales fell 7.1%. The sales decline follows a £176m pre-tax loss for the year ending 2 February.
But Morrisons last week began to fulfil its pledge to cut prices by announcing reductions, averaging 17%, on 1,200 everyday essentials.
The supermarket group opened two new supermarkets and 11 M Local convenience stores during the first quarter, and remains on track to have 200 M Local stores by the end of the year.
Chief executive Dalton Phillips said: “The plans we set out at our results in March are on track. The reaction of our customers to the 1,200 ‘I’m Cheaper’ price cuts we announced last week has been very positive.
“Although it will take time for their full impact to be felt, we are confident that these meaningful and permanent reductions in our prices will enable our clear points of difference to resonate strongly with consumers.”
But David Gray, retail analyst at Planet Retail, said “tinkering around the edges” with convenience would not provide a long-term solution to its under-performance.
“Morrisons answer to under-performance – notably investment in convenience and online grocery expansion – cannot solve the chain’s problems on their own. Morrisons needs to get the bread and butter of its retail offer right: its core grocery business - stores trading from 20,000-40,000 square feet. It is here where the real problem lies,” he said.
Its financial outlook for the full year of underlying profit before tax remains unchanged, at between £325m and £375m.