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UK supermarkets sales growth slowed

Staff Writer |
Supermarkets saw growth slow in recent weeks, with Sainsbury's and Waitrose even going into reverse as discounters renewed their land grab in the sector.

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Across the grocery market, sales growth slowed to 2.6% for the 12 weeks ending 4 November, Kantar Worldpanel revealed on after four periods growing at a pace above 3%.

Sainsbury's sales fell 0.6% to £4.2bn and its market share fell to 15.8% compared to 16.3% this time last year. Having been been the slowest growing of the Big Four for most of the year, it was the only one to face a decline, though if any consolation this was its first since June.

Sales fell by 1.0% at Waitrose, part of the John Lewis group, bringing to an end a run of growth since February 2009. Since that time Waitrose's share of the market has risen from 3.9% to above 5%.

Discounter Aldi's till roll of just over £2bn over the 12 weeks was up 15.5%, the fastest rate since January, with its market share growth at 7.6%. The increase in market share from 6.7% over the past 12 months is the greatest year-on-year gain by any retailer in almost four years.

Lidl grew sales at double digits for the second month running, up 10.2% in the period, with its market share up to 5.5% from 5.1% a year ago.

"Five years ago, just under half of British households were visiting one of the discount retailers at least once in a 12 week period. This now stands at almost two-thirds," said Fraser McKevitt, Kantar's head of retail and consumer insight.

Asda and Morrisons again offered the strongest resistance among the big four to the discounter's onslaught. Asda's sales were up 2.6% and its market share held at 15.3%, while Morrisons grew 1.5% in its 25th consecutive period of growth with its market share only dipping to 15.1% from 15.3%.

Market leader Tesco grew sales 0.4% and market share down by 0.6 percentage points to 27.5%.

Online specialist Ocado's sales rose 4.3%, with its held at 1.1%, while there was notable strong growth from Co-op, and Iceland.

Co-op's sales expanded for a seventh consecutive period with sales growth 5.1% and its share up to 6.3%.

With its environmental stance gaining prominence thanks to its 'banned' palm oil Christmas advert starring a cartoon orang-utan, Iceland has been thriving among a much wider set of shoppers than its traditional heartland, McKevitt said. "Nearly 37% of Iceland's sales come from the more affluent ABC1 social group - five years ago this was less than a third." Iceland's sales grew 5.0% this period, with 94% of growth coming from its fresh, chilled and ambient food aisles.

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