The virus-driven boom has prompted Tesco to set records for Christmas

LONDON (Reuters) – British supermarket giant Tesco, Britain’s largest retailer, on Thursday reported record Christmas sales, as online demand boomed due to virus lockdown restrictions.

Total sales jumped 7% to 19.9 billion pounds in the 19 weeks to January 9, Tesco said in a trading update, compared to the previous year.

The reporting period includes the third quarter of the company’s fiscal year, which runs through the end of November, as well as six weeks covering Christmas.

Online sales rose more than 80% adding nearly £ 1 billion to the total, as customers opted for home delivery and store assembly services.

Meanwhile, Tesco absorbed £ 810 million in virus-related costs in 2020 as a result of staff absenteeism, the hiring of 35,000 temporary employees, investing online and launching new health and safety measures.

“Our focus on caring for our customers, including record-breaking, robust safety measures and great value, has enabled us to maintain strong momentum over the Christmas period, bypassing the market every week,” said CEO Ken Murphy.

“We set a record for Christmas across all of our formats and channels.

“We are now supporting 786,000 vulnerable customers with priority access to internet slots, and as the lockdown measures continue, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure everyone can safely get the food and necessities they need.”

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