Sainsbury’s on top as grocery price war continues to stall overall UK growth

Gill McShane
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While the discounters continue to strengthen their position in the market, the ongoing price war at the ‘big four’ UK supermarket operators is helping shoppers to reduce their grocery spend and having a knock-on effect on the retailers’ sales, except for Sainsbury’s, according to the latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel, published today (Tuesday, September 22) for the 12 weeks ended September 13, 2015

Watch the video report from Fraser McKevitt here

Supermarket sales in the UK grew by less than 1% for the sixth consecutive month this year; remaining static at 0.9% or £24.7 billion during the latest 12-week period, reveals Kantar Worldpanel.

Among the big four, only Sainsbury’s recorded an increase in sales after attracting 250,000 new shoppers, while Tesco, Asda and Morrisons all posted declines. At the same time, Iceland, Waitrose and the Co-operative each saw growth, while Lidl and Aldi continued to grow their sales and market share.

Kantar Worldpanel says grocery inflation now stands at -1.7% for the 12 weeks ended September 13, 2015 (the same as last month), which means shoppers are now paying less for a representative basket of groceries than they did in 2014.

Falling grocery prices at the big four reflect the impact of Aldi and Lidl and the market’s competitive response, as well as deflation in some major categories including eggs, bread, butter and crisps.

The big four

Sainsbury’s, which is currently urging consumers to ‘twist your favourite’ recipes, was the only one of the big four retailers to keep pace with the market, as the ongoing price war continues to help shoppers reduce their grocery spend.

“Sainsbury’s has grown sales by 0.9% [to £4bn] compared with a year ago, attracting 250,000 new shoppers through the door in the last 12 weeks,” explains Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel. “The retailer has held its share steady at 16.2%, helped by the continued expansion of its Sainsbury’s Local outlets.

Tesco has also increased revenues through its Express convenience stores, although overall sales fell by 1% [to £6.98bn] and market share dropped by 0.6 percentage points to 28.2%.

“Sales at Morrisons decreased by 1.4% [to £2.6bn], taking share to 10.7%, with this likely to fall further in the coming months as the recently announced store closures take effect.”

Asda has retained its position as the nation’s second-largest supermarket despite market share falling to 16.7%, with sales down by 2.9% [to £4.1bn] compared with a year ago.

The discounters

Lidl’s sales grew by 16% [to £1.03bn] to reach a new market share high of 4.2%, thanks in part to its successful ‘Lidl surprises’ campaign.

Aldi also demonstrated strong sales growth, up by 17.3% [to £1.38bn], taking a 5.6% share of the market. The discount retailers continue to strengthen their position in the market with some 56% of British households visiting either an Aldi or a Lidl in the past 12 weeks.

The specialists

There was also success for Iceland, Waitrose and the Co-operative, which saw sales growth of 3.4% [to £487m], 2.9% [to £1.28bn] and 1% [to £1.59bn] respectively.

The symbol groups and independents saw their sales fall by 0.7% to £512,000, while a market share holding steady at 2.1%.

Online sales, meanwhile, are continuing to boom – up by 12% compared with a year ago – as shoppers move their custom away from the traditional, larger-size supermarket stores, says McKevitt.

“Almost 7% of grocery sales are currently purchased through the Internet and existing online supermarkets will be watching closely to see when Amazon Fresh will launch in the UK and whether it will steal market share or grow the online market even further,” he comments.

Grocery market share in the UK for Sept

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