Supermarket chain Asda has suffered the worst sales performance in its 50-year history with a 4.7 per cent slide in second-quarter takings.
It marked the fourth consecutive quarter of declines for the Leeds-based grocer, owned by US giant Walmart, and comes after sales fell 3.9 per cent in the previous period.
The figures, for the 11 weeks to 30 June, come as supermarkets are struggling to see off the threat of discounters Aldi and Lidl, with official figures showing the longest stretch of food and drink price deflation on record.
Asda chief executive Andy Clarke said: “We have hit our nadir. We have got positive green shoots as we move into the third quarter.”
He added: “We have led the way through what has been a very challenging storm for the retail market. Although we have hit our nadir, we are on an upward curve.”
Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said the ongoing price wars would play into shoppers’ hands in the run-up to Christmas, adding: “We have been somewhat surprised by the magnitude of Asda’s underperformance in 2015 and, indeed, we continue to scratch our heads on this matter given the magnitude of sales weakness
“Asda is, no doubt like the rest of the superstore trade, bracing itself for the forthcoming autumn trading period. We expect a lively trading environment.”