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Gloucestershire Business News

Omicron fears and supply chain issues hit Christmas sales

Supply chain issues and fears over Omicron hit sales at a number of key retailers in the run up to Christmas.

Electrical goods retailer Currys has reduced its profit forecast after a difficult Christmas trading period.

The retailer said like-for-like revenue in the 10 weeks to January 8th fell 5%.

The full-year pre-tax profit is now expected to be around £155 million, compared to the previous estimate of between £156 million and £160 million.

The 'softer' electricals market meant sales were 10% down on the previous year. However, sales in the gaming and large domestic appliances sectors increased.

Alex Baldock, Currys chief executive, said the technology market had been "challenging" with "uneven consumer demand and supply disruption".

He added: "This was a gamers' Christmas, the year that virtual reality broke into the mainstream, and when consoles flew off the shelves.

"Oculus Quest 2 and PS5 were stars. Appliances large and small also enjoyed strong sales, as consumers continued to kit out their homes. Still, the overall UK tech market was down 10% compared to last year's peak period."

Meanwhile, sales at Halfords also fell in the run up to Christmas, as shoppers stayed away over fears about the Omicron variant of Covid.

Sales of children's bicycles started well during the 13 weeks to the end of December but were then hit by freight delays.

Halfords stated there was a "strong performance during October and November but a drop-off in performance in the latter part of the period as the Omicron variant grew in prominence".

Sales at Argos - owned by Sainsbury - were also more than 9% down in the third quarter and the supermarket chain's general merchandise sales were 20% lower. Grocery sales were up slightly by 0.1%.

Sainsbury's said the firm had been hit by product shortages of consumer electronics, toys and televisions caused by supply chain issues.

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