However, the latest grocery market share figures from Kantar Worldpanel, for the 12 weeks to March 25, indicated that the winter storm dubbed “the Beast from the East” forced many consumers to change their shopping plans.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “In the run up to and during the cold snap, shoppers stockpiled groceries buying 4% more items than normal, increasing the average value of a trip from £14.99 to £15.80. However, they simultaneously visited stores 5% less often as they stayed wrapped up at home, meaning overall lost sales from the storm were minimised to £22 million.
“Warming foods and drinks were the go-to items for customers after braving the snowy weather – sales of hot beverages and tinned soup grew by 8.4% and 27.5% respectively over the past month.”
The earlier Easter was also good news for anyone selling Easter eggs or hot cross buns in March.
Mr McKevitt continued “Despite average prices jumping by 35p to £1.83, Easter eggs were rolling off the shelf in March with sales up 69% compared to this time last year. Almost 15 million shoppers picked up Easter eggs last month while the average household, tempted by promotional offers, was swayed into buying at least two Easter eggs to meet their seasonal chocolate fix. Hot cross buns also saw a steep rise, with sales up £7.7 million compared to this time last year.”
The discounters – Aldi and Lidl – continue to make their mark with both retailers achieving new market share highs. Growing sales by 10.7%, Aldi increased market share by 0.5 percentage points to reach a 7.3% share of the market, while Lidl clocked in year-on-year sales growth of 10.3% to reach a 5.3% share.
Mr McKevitt said: “Aldi and Lidl are continuing to disrupt the market. As the discounters proceed with the expansion of their store portfolios, over the past 12 weeks 63.5% of all households visited at least one of the retailers.”
Over the past 12 weeks Tesco experienced a sales increase of 2.4% to hold market share steady at 27.6% – the first time it has held share since December 2016 – attracting an additional 262,000 customers through its doors, Kantar said. The retailer saw sales growth of branded goods overtake own-label groceries for the first time since June 2015.
Morrison’s also saw sales increase by 2.4% with a resulting market share of 10.4%. Growth at the retailer was helped by a strong performance in online sales, with Morrison’s e-commerce offering proving particularly popular among younger, more affluent shoppers.
Despite encouraging shoppers to up the size of their baskets by 2.4% – the fastest increase experienced among the big four – Asda’s market share fell back by 0.2 percentage points to 15.6%. Sainsbury’s also saw market share drop – down 0.3 percentage points to 15.8% – despite sales growth of 0.6%.
The retailer has continued its move away from promotions: only 32.7% of sales at Sainsbury’s were achieved while a product was on offer.
Co-op saw sales increase by 0.1%, with the disposal of 300 stores to McColl’s still affecting its performance. Waitrose also experienced sales growth – up 1.5% year-on-year – while its market share fell by 0.1 percentage points to 5.0%. After two years of continuous growth, Iceland saw sales fall by 0.8% over the past 12 weeks and dropped market share to 2.1%.