Muted UK grocery sales despite surge in Veganuary & Dry January

Dry January & Veganuary boosts UK grocery sales market share Kantar Nielsen
The latest data follows the slowest Christmas trading period since 2015, when supermarket sales rose by just 0.2%
// Latest grocery sales data from Kantar Worldpanel revealed muted growth of 0.3%
// The Big 4 all suffered sales declines & lost market share while Ocado, Aldi & Lidl continued to surge ahead
// Separate figures from Nielsen also showed sales grew by a “subdued” 0.7%

Surging demand for non-alcoholic drinks and the increasingly popular Veganuary trend failed to halt sales declines among the UK’s biggest grocers, new figures have shown.

The latest grocery sales and market share data from Kantar Worldpanel revealed muted sales growth of 0.3 per cent overall in the 12 weeks to January 26.

The Big 4 retailers – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – all suffered declines and lost market share compared to this time last year, while Ocado and German discounters Aldi and Lidl continued to surge ahead.

Kantar found that sales of non-alcoholic beer skyrocketed 37 per cent in the past three months, with a three per cent rise for adult soft drinks as many shoppers abstained for Dry January.

READ MORE:  UK grocers endure slowest Christmas growth since 2015

Despite this trend, it said more than 15 million households still bought alcohol during the past four weeks.

Subdued overall consumer demand saw the major grocery chains lose market share, with Tesco down to 27.3 per cent from 27.7 per cent a year earlier, Sainsbury’s falling to 15.8 per cent from 15.9 per cent year-on-year, Asda dropping to 14.9 per cent from 15.3 per cent, and Morrisons tumbling to 10.3 per cent from 10.6 per cent.

It follows the slowest Christmas trading period since 2015, when supermarket sales rose by just 0.2 per cent in the 12 weeks to December 29.

However, Kantar said online grocer Ocado showed its rivals a clean pair of heels over the recent quarter, with sales jumping 11.2 per cent and its market share increasing year-on-year from 1.2 per cent to 1.4 per cent.

It even beat fast-growing discounters Lidl and Aldi, which saw sales rise 11.1 per cent and 5.7 per cent respectively.

However, the German retailers’ market share saw bigger jumps than Ocado, with Aldi’s share growing from 7.5 per cent to 7.9 per cent year-on-year, and Lidl growing 5.3 per cent to 5.9 per cent.

Separate figures from Nielsen also showed sales grew by a “subdued” 0.7 per cent in the most recent four weeks to January 25.

This marks a significant decline on the 3.3 per cent growth seen a year earlier, Nielsen said.

Kantar head of retail insight Fraser McKevitt said supermarkets were keen to tap into the growing popularity of vegan ranges, launching a number of new product lines, including Gro from Co-op, Plant base from Asda, and Waitrose’s new vegan lines.

“It’s clear the Veganuary campaign is having an impact,” he said.

“More than twice as many consumers bought one of the supermarkets’ explicitly labelled plant-based products in January 2020 compared with the festivity-filled December 2019.”

Kantar found sales of meat substitutes such as soya mince or vegetarian burgers and sausages were 14 per cent higher than January last year, while sales of lentils were up six per cent, lettuce 10 per cent and aubergine 14 per cent.

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