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LONDON - Safeway Plc, Britain's fourth-biggest food retailer, today posted Christmas sales that fell at the bottom of analysts' expectations, raising concerns it may be falling behind in the UK supermarket sector, Reuters reports.
The group, which operates just under 500 stores across Britain, said like-for-like sales rose 4.1 percent in the 12 weeks ended Jan. 5, compared with the year before. Analysts had been forecasting a rise of four to five percent.
Safeway said its Christmas trading reflected continued growth in customer numbers plus increased average spend from its existing clients. The result was achieved despite lower petrol prices and a continuing refitting program.
It said like-for-like sales growth accelerated to 5.4 percent from 4.3 percent in its second quarter, after a fall in prices of 1.3 percent.