Tesco has (literally) just released (at 7 a.m in the UK) its Christmas and New Years trading statement for the six week period up to January 7, 2012.
In the just-issued statement Tesco reports strong comparable-store-sales (called like-for-like in the UK) of 19.3% for its El Segundo, California-based Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain for the six week holiday period, compared to the same period last year.
Additionally, Tesco says total sales at Fresh & Easy grew by 40.6% (actual rate) for the period, over the previous year.
The 19.3% comparable-store-sales growth number is a strong one for Fresh & Easy.
It's also the most meaningful metric of the two noted above because it measures stores that have been open for at least one year. The total sales number includes new stores that have been opened during the year.
Overall, Tesco, which has operations in 14 countries, reported an increase in group sales in the six weeks to January 7, 2012 of 5.2% including petrol (4.2% at actual exchange rates) and by 4.0% excluding petrol (2.9% at actual exchange rates), compared to the same period last year.
In the United Kingdom, which accounts for nearly 70% of Tesco's annual revenue, the retailer had negative comparable-store-sales of (1.3%) for the seven weeks up to January 7, 2012, including value added tax and excluding fuel sales, compared to the same period last year.
Excluding the value added tax and fuel sales, Tesco's UK stores suffered a a negative (2.3%) like-for-like sales decline.
The negative like-for-like sales for Tesco at home in the UK reflects strong competition from Walmart-owned Asda and Sainsbury's - the number two and three chains in the nation respectively after Tesco, which is number one - as well as from Morrisons and Waitrose, along with pressure being put on it from the deep-discount end by Aldi and Lidl, the German hard discount grocery chains that continue to expand in the UK.
Tesco launched a heavy discount program for the holidays called "The Big Price Drop," which, based on the sales growth numbers for the seven week period, doesn't appear to have been a sales booster for the retailer.
Tesco opened three new Fresh & Easy stores today - two in Northern California, in Mountain View and Brentwood in Northern California's San Francisco Bay Area - and a Fresh & Easy Express unit in the Southern California city of Hermosa Beach.
Tesco now has 187 Fresh & Easy stores in California (138), Arizona (28 units) and Nevada (21 units).
As we were the first publication of any kind to report on Sunday and early Monday, Tesco is closing 12 Fresh & Easy stores. The retailer plans to close the stores by the end of the month.
We will have more to say about Tesco's holiday sales report, particularly as it pertains to its Fresh 7 Easy chain in the U.S., upcoming. But the reporting is literally hot off the online press, so we wanted to give Fresh & Easy Buzz readers the first look.
You can view Tesco just-released holiday sales report here, which includes sales data for its divisions in Asia and Central Europe, along with some additional sales data overall.