Sainsbury’s leads the way with continued sales growth in run up to Christmas

Gill McShane
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While UK shoppers can look forward to a cheaper Christmas this year, there’s not much festive cheer for the supermarkets. The latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel, published today (Tuesday, December 15, 2015) for the 12 weeks ended December 6, 2015, show total grocery market sales grew by a “feeble” 0.1% compared with last year as retailers battle for sales during the vital Christmas period

Watch Kantar’s results presentation here.

Out of the ‘Big Four’ multiples, Kantar Worldpanel says only Sainsbury’s posted sales growth during the latest 12-week period, with the discounters, The Co-operative and Waitrose also experiencing sales increases and a rise in market share for the latter two companies. 

Kantar UK grocery sales results by retailer

Despite Black Friday seeing a small 4% increase in UK grocery market sales – compared with the previous Friday – the event itself has done little to buoy the market overall, claims Kantar Worldpanel. Indeed, the latest period sees the lowest growth since June and marks the ninth consecutive month where sales have increased by less than 1%.

“Although slow growth means a distinct lack of seasonal cheer for the market, the news is more positive for consumers looking to save this Christmas,” explains Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel.

“Last year customers spent an average of £71.33 on their big Christmas shop but with falling prices set to continue, shoppers are likely to enjoy a cheaper Christmas this year. All supermarkets are cutting prices, particularly on staples like eggs and butter, with the cost of everyday groceries falling by 1.9% this month.”

Results by retailer

Sainsbury’s: Despite the difficult market conditions, Kantar Worldpanel says Sainsbury’s has increased sales by 1.2% in the last 12 weeks; growing across its convenience, supermarket and online businesses, and raising its market share to 16.7%.

“Consumers continue to be drawn to the retailer’s ‘Taste the Difference’ range, and with sales of champagne and sparkling wine up by a quarter it seems clear that the grocer is successfully tapping into demand for premium goods,” McKevitt notes. “Sainsbury’s recent run of success predates its popular ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ [television] advert, with the retailer now having grown ahead of the market for three months in a row.”

Tesco & Asda: Things remain tough for Tesco and Asda, however, with both retailers experiencing a fall in sales of 3.4% as consumers drift away from larger stores towards the discounters. It’s not all bad news though – while internet shopping has created a challenge for the large out-of-town sites favoured by more traditional grocers, both Tesco and Asda have managed to increase sales online.

Morrisons: Elsewhere, Morrisons has started to feel the impact of selling 130 of its M Local convenience stores, with revenues down by 2%.

Aldi and Lidl: The discounters remain at the combined 10% share of the market they achieved last month, growing sales by 15.4% and 17.9% respectively year-on-year. And although many shoppers may not head to Aldi and Lidl for their entire Christmas shop, Kantar Worldpanel says it expects more and more are likely to pop in for trimmings ahead of December 25, meaning each discounter should hope to attract a healthy 10 million shoppers over the Christmas period.

The Co-operative & Waitrose: On the upside, the Co-operative and Waitrose were both market share winners this month. The Co-operative’s revival continues with sales growth of 2% and an increased market share of 6.2%. Waitrose has grown revenues by 2.7% and now holds a respectable 5.1% share of the market.

Inflation update

Kantar Worldpanel says UK grocery inflation now stands at -1.9% for the 12-week period ended December 6, 2015. This means shoppers are now paying less for a representative basket of groceries than they did in 2014. This is the 16th consecutive period of grocery price deflation. Prices are falling faster than they did last month, when they fell by 1.7%. Falling prices reflect the impact of Aldi and Lidl and the market’s competitive response, as well as deflation in some major categories including eggs, butter, bread, crisps and fresh poultry. 

Kantar UK grocery market share by retailer

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