Tesco, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer all report miserable sales in run up to Christmas

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M&S boss Marc Bolland with Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Photo: PA

Three of our biggest names have revealed how badly they fared during retailers' most critical period - the run up to Christmas - this morning.

Tesco, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer all reported drops in sales, all blaming a difficult climate.

Yet there is no getting away from the fact that some of their rivals are doing well and building share.

Tesco are perhaps more protected than the other two due to their very significant presence all over the world - although there is intense pressure on the chief executive to get on with the mission he has already started - turning round the home market.

Morrisons, who are about to launch a brand new online service seriously late, have had a dreadful set of results with sales down more than 5%.

Morrisons are very late to online shopping. Credit: PA

One analyst told me this morning that they are struggling because they are being "attacked from the underside" by discounters like Lidl and Aldi, and those above like Sainsbury's are being "much more aggressive".

And for M & S, this is the 10th consecutive quarter of decline and will likely result in an increase in the volume of questions being asked about the boss, Marc Bolland.

Talking to journalists this morning, he said the company had being "doing the right thing", and said that the business was growing strongly online and the food business' performance had been "stellar".

But despite repeated relaunches, glitzy campaigns and millions spent, the rest of the business continues to struggle and there are doubts over the strategy.

One source said told me they are "just relying on everyone turning up to buy their sandwiches and old ladies".

If true, that is hardly a recipe for sustainable success.