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Asda reports slowing sales as consumers cut back


The supermarket's CEO said the group continued to outperform the market

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Asda recorded slowing sales in the three months to the end of June as already cash-strapped shoppers cut back on spending as the economic outlook worsened.

The Wal-Mart owned supermarket reported on Thursday that sales at shops open over a year, excluding fuel and VAT sales tax, were up 0.7 percent in the 13 weeks to 30 June in its second quarter.

The UK’s second-biggest supermarket chain after Tesco said the slight fall followed a rise of 2.2 percent in the first quarter, when growth was driven by a focus on low prices and revamped fresh food lines.

Asda chief executive Andy Clarke told reporters he was really pleased and proud of the results as the group continued to outperform the market in what is "still a very tough environment for customers".

Though even traditionally resilient grocers are hurting in the double dip recession, industry data has shown Asda growing sales faster than all of its main UK rivals over the last three months.

Market leader Tesco has stepped up promotions and vouchers following a shock profit warning in January, while industry number three Sainsbury has followed to a degree.

Asda, which trades from about 550 stores, lagged Britain's grocery market in 2010 but has fought back since, helped by its purchase of smaller format Netto stores and a re-launch of its own-brand food range.

It has also benefited from its price guarantee which offers to refund customers the difference, via a voucher, if an online price comparison website does not show their shopping was at least 10 percent cheaper than at a rival.

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