A woman pushes a shopping trolley past Christmas decorations for sale in a Tesco store in Manchester, Britain November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) – Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, beat forecasts with a 2.2 percent rise in like-for-like sales in Britain over Christmas, saying it outperformed the market in food, clothing and general merchandise.

Analysts had forecast a rise of 1.0 to 1.5 percent for the six weeks to Jan. 5.

Chief Executive Dave Lewis said: “In the UK we delivered significant improvements in our competitive offer and this is reflected in a very strong Christmas performance which was ahead of the market.”

Tesco soundly beat its listed peers. No. 2 Sainsbury’s missed forecasts with a 1.1 percent fall in third-quarter sales on Wednesday, and fourth ranked Morrisons reported a 0.6 percent rise in sales for the nine weeks to Jan. 6 on Tuesday.

However, industry data indicated all of Britain’s big four grocers, including No. 3 Asda, lost share over Christmas to discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Tesco on Thursday also reported a 0.7 percent rise in UK same-store sales for its third quarter to Nov. 24 – its 12th straight quarter of growth – and said it was confident in its outlook for the full year.

Analysts had forecast UK like-for-like sales growth of 0.5 to 1.0 percent for the third quarter following growth of 2.5 percent in the second quarter.

For the 2018-19 year, analysts on average expect Tesco to make an operating profit before exceptional items of 2.08 billion pounds, up from 1.64 billion in 2017-18.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton and Jason Neely


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