Grocers see slowest rate of Christmas growth since 2015

Aldis sales were up by 6 per cent
Aldis sales were up by 6 per cent
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Grocers have seen their slowest rate of growth over the Christmas period since 2015, according to the latest figures from Kantar.

The research firm said there was no sign of the post-election rush many had hoped for in the final weeks before Christmas, with shoppers carefully watching their budgets.

Leeds-based Asda and Bradford-based Morrisons were the worst performers among the big four grocers with sales down 2.2 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively.

UK grocery sales grew marginally by 0.2 per cent in the 12 weeks to December 29 despite retailers taking a record £29.3bn - up £50m on last year.

While December 23 was easily the single busiest shopping day of 2019, average household spending fell by £8 to £1,055.

Sales of Christmas puddings were down by 16 per cent, while seasonal biscuits were 11 per cent lower and turkey sales also fell by 1 per cent, partly due to a shift from whole birds to smaller and cheaper joints such as crowns as cautious shoppers cut back on traditional and indulgent festive classics.

Sparkling wine sales dipped by 8 per cent, but beer and wine were more popular than 2018, with sales up 1 per cent and 2 per cent respectively.

Like-for-like prices only rose by 0.9 per cent, which was good news for consumers looking to control festive bills.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “There was no sign of the post-election rush many had hoped for in the final weeks before Christmas, with shoppers carefully watching their budgets.”

Among the bricks and mortar retailers, Lidl led the way with sales growth of 10 per cent, while Aldi’s sales were up by 6 per cent.

Britain’s fastest growing grocer overall was Ocado, with sales rising by 12.5 per cent.

Sales at Sainsbury’s fell by 0.7 per cent while Tesco’s sales were 1.5 per cent lower.

Separate data from Nielsen also shows that UK supermarkets experienced the lowest sales growth over the Christmas period in five years, at just 0.5 per cent in the last four weeks.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, said: “It is unsurprising that sales have remained relatively low over the December period, given that momentum continued to slow in the run-up to Christmas this year.

“Despite the festive season, consumers are evidently remaining cautious by taking advantage of greater price competition and special offers.”