In contrast to Tesco and Sainsbury’s optimism, Morrisons has reported a sharp slowdown in sales growth at its stores over Christmas as cautious customers held back on spending amid “a feeling of uncertainty in the country”.

Britain’s fourth-biggest supermarket group said like-for-like retail sales rose 0.6% in the nine weeks to 6 January compared with the same period last year amid a “change in consumer behaviour”.

That compared to growth of 1.3% in the preceding quarter and 2.1% over the Christmas period to January 2018, though it was better than some analysts expected. Morrisons chief executive David Potts said: “Going into November there was a sense that customers were a bit more cautious, a bit more careful with their spending. A feeling of uncertainty in the country may have led to some of that feeling.”

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