Grocery sales slow ahead of peak Christmas season

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Grocery sales slow ahead of peak Christmas season
Kantar Worldpanel pointed to a backdrop of political uncertainty and a persistently wet autumn for the latest overall grocery sales figures.
// Overall grocery sales grew by just 1%, according to Kantar Worldpanel
// Tesco and Asda retain market share, while Sainsbury’s & Morrisons gain
// Aldi and Lidl lost some market share

The Big 4 have recorded a slow start to the crucial festive period, although they either retained or gained market share as Aldi and Lidl declined.

Year-on-year, overall supermarket sales grew by one per cent, down slightly on last month, according to the latest market share figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

The slowing growth saw sales at Asda and Morrisons fall by 1.2 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively, while Sainsbury’s and Tesco proved slightly more resilient with drops of 0.2 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively in the past 12 weeks.

Tesco recently unveiled its new Clubcard Plus offer which gives subscribers 10 per cent off two large shops each month, which has been a driver behind the 1.8 million households that made at least two trips to the retailer worth £50 or more in the past four weeks.


READ MORE: Sainsbury’s outperforms the Big 4 as Brits hold back on Brexit stockpiling


As a result, Tesco was able to retain its market share of 27 per cent on a month-on-month basis.

However, when compared to the same time last year its market share had dropped from 27.5 per cent.

Like Tesco, Asda also retained its market share of 15 per cent when compared to last month, but on a year-on-year basis it dropped from 15.3 per cent.

Sainsbury’s and Morrisons were able to improve their market share on a month-on-month basis, improving from 15.3 per cent to 15.6 per cent and from 9.9 per cent to 10 per cent respectively.

Compared to the same time last year though, Morrisons’ market share had dropped from 10.3 per cent while Sainsbury’s declined marginally from 15.7 per cent.

In an unusual turn of events, both Aldi and Lidl lost some market share compared to last month – although dropping a marginal one percentage point each to eight per cent and 5.9 per cent respectively.

On a year-on-year basis, Aldi’s market share improved from 7.6 per cent while Lidl grew from 5.5 per cent.

Despite this, Kantar Worldpanel said Lidl was the fastest growing bricks-and-mortar retailer this period with sales up by 8.8 per cent.

The Co-op has also grown continuously since May last year, and saw sales increase again this period with year-on-year growth currently at 4.4 per cent.

However, the Co-op’s market share dropped from 6.6 per cent last month to 6.5 per cent.

Compared to the same period last year though, its market share improved from 6.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, Waitrose’s market share dropped marginally from 5.1 per cent down to five per cent – both on a monthly and annual basis.

Kantar Worldpanel pointed to a backdrop of political uncertainty and a persistently wet autumn for the latest overall grocery sales figures, despite shoppers spending £17 million on mince pies and £3 million on Christmas puddings as retailers turned their attention to the festive season.

“This year pumpkin sales were up by six per cent in October as the public geared up for Halloween – with more than a tenth of British households taking one home,” Kantar Worldpanel head of retail insight Fraser McKevitt said.

“In the past decade pumpkin sales have increased by 62 per cent – a telling barometer of how retailers have found success by increasing focus on seasonal spend.

“With many supermarkets already unveiling their festive advertising campaigns, the starting gun has been fired on the race to be Christmas number one.

“It should come as no surprise to see the grocers jostling for position early – with the average household expected to spend more than £380 on groceries during December.

“In total, shoppers will spend nearly £11 billion in that month alone, showing how it’s a crucial period for retailers.”

Separate market share figures from Nielsen, also released today, also show consumers continue to hold back grocery spend at the top four supermarkets as sales rose by just 1.1 per cent in the last four weeks.

“The in store promotional activity ahead of the festive period, from Halloween to retailers’ money-off vouchers, clearly proved less effective with consumers as grocery sales largely fell flat in the last four weeks at the big four supermarkets,” Nielsen UK head of retailer insight Mike Watkins said.

“Whilst the economy remains Brits’ number one concern, rising food prices and global warming are climbing up the agenda, and are all motivating shoppers to spend differently. Moreover, with the continued uncertainty around Brexit and now a General Election on the horizon, shoppers are increasingly adopting a savings mindset.”

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