Premium and wellness trends behind six-year surge in grocery spend

European grocery sales

European consumers spent 4.4 per cent more on groceries in the last quarter of 2017, making it the biggest increase in six years, according to new figures from Nielsen.

Published last week, Nielsen’s retail performance data figures covered 21 European countries.

While budgeting and aggressive discounting remain high on the consumer agenda, shoppers still bought 1.8 per cent more items in that time, paying 2.6 per cent more than they did a year ago thanks to a combination of price inflation and shoppers actually choosing more expensive products.

Nielsen retailer services senior vice president Olivier Deschamps put the rise down to the consumers’ changing aspirations.

“One of the reasons for the growth against this backdrop is the performance of local brands over the leading international players,” he said.

“They’ve capitalised on the revival of ‘local pride’, tapping into consumer and retailer tastes towards premium, local champions, particularly the focus on health and wellness through organic and free-from ingredients. Health now being one of Europeans’ two biggest concerns.”

Deschamps added that 2017 saw a rise in consumer confidence across Europe, reaching record highs in several countries, which contributed to a strong overall year for grocery retail.

The gains are particularly notable when overarching themes of savings and shopping around for the best deals from competitors continue to make up a large part of consumer behaviour in the grocery aisle.

Breaking down the results by country, Nielsen found Turkey had the highest year-on-year growth in takings at the till, with a 16.8 per cent increase.

They were followed by Hungary, up 8.2 per cent.

Switzerland, Finland and Belgium all experienced the smallest comparable growth with not one country reaching above 1.8 per cent year-on-year.

In the UK, prices paid rose 1.2 per cent, while volumes were up 2.8 per cent.

Total spend on fast-moving consumer goods increased four per cent overall, bringing the UK into ninth place out of 21 countries.

As a final point of encouragement, Deschamps added that over-arching economic stability in Europe would continue to support sales.

“Two growth areas in particular to look out for are e-commerce and private label,” he said.

“Retailers continue to revamp their own brands, upgrading ranges and investing in marketing to tap into consumer needs around competitive prices but good quality.”

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