Morrisons like-for like sales down 2.4% in Q3
The supermarket blamed weak consumer confidence, its small number of convenience stores and lack of an online grocery business for the fall.
However, total store sales excluding fuel edged up 1% in the quarter.
In a statement, Morrisons said its online business would launch in January as planned, and that it expects the service to be able to deliver to 50% of UK homes, including London, by the end of 2014.
The supermarket is also growing its fledgling convenience business with the opening of 36 M Local stores during the quarter which brought the total to 69 across the country. Morrisons said it was pleased with the stores’ performance to date, adding that it was on track to have 100 M local stores open by the end of the current year. The supermarket plans to launch a further 100 M locals in 2014/15.
In October, Morrisons introduced its new Pick of the Shop offers and its Big Christmas Bonus scheme to reward loyal customers. This will be followed by the launch of the supermarket’s Christmas advertising campaign tomorrow with the theme "Go on it's Christmas".
Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips said: "We continue to grow our sales in this tough market whilst making great progress on our strategy to be a multi-channel retailer. I said at the outset that our online offer would be unmistakably Morrisons and I'm very confident that the service we unveil in January will live up to that promise.
“Many of our customers will be able to experience our distinctive online food service early in the new year and we expect to be able to serve 50% of UK homes by the end of the year. In convenience we are currently opening three M locals a week bringing the Morrisons brand to an ever increasing number of new customers. We've made good progress in strengthening our core proposition during the quarter and with Christmas just round the corner, we are pleased to see customers responding well to our Big Christmas Bonus and industry leading deals."
Looking ahead, Philips said he expects the market to remain challenging for the remainder of the year and as a result the financial outlook for the full year remains unchanged.
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