Published in its Christmas and New Year trading statement, Tesco saw total sales, including VAT and petrol, decline by 1.5%, and by 0.6% excluding petrol, with like-for-like sales falling 2.4% in the six weeks to 4 January.
The company said these results were driven primarily by a weaker grocery market, and also reflected the impact of a “tougher comparative”.
It also cited its decision to significantly reduce its new store opening programme as holding back top-line performance in the short term.
Philip Clarke, chief executive, said: “We continued to invest in the most compelling offer for the tens of millions of customers who chose to shop with us this Christmas, but further weakness in the grocery market as a whole continued to impact our performance in the UK.”
Elsewhere, Tesco saw over three million online grocery delivery orders being made, up 11%, with one-third of all orders placed on a mobile device. This resulted in £450m in UK online sales, an increase of 14%.
It reported that over £1bn was taken in the five days before Christmas.
In a statement, the company said: “The progress we have made since laying out our plans to Build a Better Tesco in the UK contributed to our most compelling Christmas offer at an important time of year for our customers.
“Despite the external challenges, we continued to invest in all elements of our customer offer, which contributed to an improving trend through the period. Our refreshed stores also performed more strongly.”
Tesco said it estimated the market consensus for FY 2013/14 group trading profit to have a range of £3.16bn to £3.4bn, with a mean of £3.3bn.