London The Walmart-owned retailer that is Britain’s second-largest grocer experienced a sales dip of 0.3% in the first quarter ended May 1, compared with a rise in sales of 4.6% a year ago.
The sales decrease was the grocer’s first drop in four years.
“High petrol prices and the prospect of tax increases from the incoming government are weighing heavily on [consumers’] minds,” Andy Clarke, the incoming chief executive, told the Financial Times.
Andy Bond, who gave up the chief executive post at Asda last month to become chairman, described the results as “disappointing” but said Asda had been harder hit than competitors by heavy snow at the beginning of the year.
“Many of our big stores were indisputably hit by bad weather. If you take that out, the slowdown [in sales] is roughly in line with everyone else,” he told the Times.
Bond added that Asda, which sells itself as an “everyday low- price” retailer, has not helped itself by jumping on to the promotional bandwagon. The grocer has just launched a price guarantee deal to customers. It has also pledged to leapfrog Tesco to become Britain’s biggest non-food retailer in the next five years.