Asda and Morrisons beat big four rivals

Asda and Morrisons were the best performers out of the big four grocers as shoppers returned to seasonal favourites amid a cool off in supermarket spending.

Asda and Morrisons are outperforming their big rivals
Asda and Morrisons are outperforming their big rivals

Both Asda and Morrisons reported sales growth of 2.4 per cent in the 12 weeks to October 7 - more than double that of rivals Tesco and Sainsbury's, according to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

The arrival of colder weather and darker evenings has inspired consumers to embrace hearty comfort foods and stock up on Sunday roast staples; shoppers spent £51m on whole chickens, £62m on roasting joints and £4m on Yorkshire puddings in September alone. Kantar said that the autumn chill has put Sunday lunch back on the menu.

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Both Yorkshire-based retailers, Asda and Morrisons, produced strong growth.

Asda continued to focus on its own-label lines and overall sales increased both online and in store.

​Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: "Asda's core standard own label lines - that the stuff that's doing really well.

"They have really put the price investment on every day low prices.

"Asda is doing something right, as is Morrisons. Asda has grown for 20 periods in a row."

In contrast, Morrisons generated growth by selling more branded items, while cutting back on promotions faster than any other retailer.

Despite this, Morrisons still promotes more than any other supermarket, with 45 per cent of sales made on some kind of deal.

Mr McKevitt said: "Morrisons has a slightly different strategy. It is moving more towards every day low pricing."

Sainsbury’s grew by just 0.6 per cent, achieving a market share of 15.4 per cent.

"Sainsbury's growth is slower than I'm sure they'd like," said Mr McKevitt.

"Sainsbury's and Tesco are losing relative ground to Asda and Morrisons."

Overall supermarket sales rose 3.2​ per cent​ compared ​with​ the same 12 weeks last year. ​Alt​hough this is a slight slowdown from the highs reached during 2018’s hot summer, sales are above 3.0​ per cent​ for the fourth period in a row and well ahead of the average market growth rate over the past five years​ of​ 1.7​ per cent​.

Mr McKevitt said: “Consumer spending often slows in early autumn, after the excesses of summer barbecues and before the festive season kicks off."

“Christmas will be here before we know it and some families seem to be getting into the spirit already – 8​ per cent​ of households bought mince pies last month, spending a total of £4​m with 70 days still to go before the big day.”

​Mr McKevitt​ is predicting "a relatively strong Christmas" and a continuation of the healthy current growth rates.

Aldi increased sales by 15.1​ per cent​​, which is its fastest rate of growth since January 2018, supported by its fresh and chilled aisles, with sales of dairy products up 24​ per cent​ and fresh poultry up 29​ per cent​ compared with last year.

Some 6​ per cent​ of Aldi’s sales came from premium own-label lines including its Specially Selected range – a higher proportion than any other supermarket – and ​the rapid rise in the number of stores helped it increase its market share by 0.8 percentage points to 7.6​ per cent​.

Lidl attracted 5​ per cent​ more shoppers through its doors compared with the same period last year and persuaded visitors to spend an extra 55​p per trip – a greater increase than any of its rivals – helping the store achieve sales growth of 10.0​ per cent.

With sales up 7.0​ per cent​, Co-op was the only other bricks and mortar retailer to gain market share.

​Mr​ McKevitt ​said: “An additional 265,000 households visited Co-op over the past 12 weeks. They were particularly drawn to its own-label lines, buying 10​ per cent​ more of these ranges than this time last year which accounted for more than half of Co-op’s total sales.”

​Sales at Tesco ​rose 0.9​ per cent​​.

​Mr ​McKevitt ​said​: “Despite widespread interest in the September launch of its discounter concept, Jack’s, the small number of stores planned means it won’t impact on Tesco’s market share without a significant expansion.

​"​Within the main supermarket ‘Exclusively at Tesco’ lines continue to be a real bright spot, with 41​ per cent​ of British shoppers buying one of these products during the last 12 weeks, spending a combined £102​m.”