By Karen Peattie

RETAIL giant Asda unveiled a 1.3 per cent dip in like-for-like sales in the last three months of 2019, pointing to "cautious" customer spending.

The Leeds-based supermarket said that while overall performance in the quarter was impacted by challenging market conditions – particularly in clothing – its core food business proved more stable.

However, Asda said the period saw continued progress in its strategy of "winning on price, delivering an easy shopping experience and growth where customers care".

Asda's chief executive Roger Burnley said sales of its “Extra Special" range grew ahead of the market in the quarter in the quarter from October 1 to December 31, up 5% year on year.

The supermarket's home shopping operation, he added, "continued to deliver double-digit growth in the fourth quarter – up 10.3% year on year – and we continue to innovate in this area".

Mr Burnley said: "We rolled out 'Same Day Delivery' to 284 stores and trialled a one-hour Click and Collect service in two shops. Following positive customer feedback, this service is being extended across the chain."

Ahead of Christmas, he added, customers were "more mindful in their spending" with many choosing to pare back their gifting.

"Our monthly Income Tracker showed that while disposable income remained stable at around £217 a week during the fourth quarter, previously seen trends of growth are starting to slow and consumers remain highly budget conscious," he said.

During the quarter the retailer tested new concepts and implemented trials with new partners, including Sushi Daily and Claire’s Accessories, in a number of stores. It refreshed seven stores, including a £5m refurbishment of its Edinburgh Jewel store.

Mr Burnley confirmed that Asda would be making bonus payments to eligible colleagues later this month. "We’re ambitious to deliver even more for customers in 2020 and have entered the year with an even sharper focus on driving forward our strategy, which is anchored in saving our customers time as well as money,” he said.