THE UK’s grocery market is growing at its slowest rate since March 2017 as consumers feel the benefits of falling inflation, according to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel.
However, Kantar revealed that Christmas spending is still expected to break records, with overall sales in December anticipated to reach £10 billion.
Sales of festive treats are already in full swing. Boxed chocolate and Brussel sprout sales have already reached £292 million and £18 million respectively. The Co-op is one of only three retailers to win market share over the 12 weeks to December 2, increasing sales by 4.5 per cent.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Consumers are benefiting from falling inflation. It now stands at 1.6 per cent – less than half the rate of inflation in December 2017, when it reached 3.6 per cent – leading to a slowdown in the overall market.
“Over the summer shoppers upped their weekly trips to the grocers as they took advantage of the hot weather, but with the mercury dropping the number of trips has tailed off – again contributing to waning market growth.”
Black Friday – which fell on November 23– saw footfall to the entertainment, toy and electrical retailers nearly double, but had little impact on the supermarkets, according to Kantar. While the majority of households did take part in Black Friday, e-commerce trumped bricks-and-mortar shopping for non-FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) products.
Mr McKevitt added: “The last time Christmas Day fell on a Tuesday was in 2012 and the Saturday before was the busiest shopping day of the year. We expect the same trend to hold true this year, with Saturday December 22 pulling in the last-minute Christmas crowds.
“Because of the way Christmas falls, grocers have an extra trading day this year meaning overall sales in December – up to and including Christmas Eve – could reach £10 billion. Despite an uncertain political climate taking its toll on consumer confidence, shoppers are still willing to spend that little bit extra on more expensive goods. Total premium own-label lines are growing at 5.5 per cent, which could lead to record sales in this price tier of £1.1 billion over the 12-week period.”
Meanwhile, the discounters continue to perform well, with both Aldi and Lidl experiencing double-digit growth over the last 12 weeks. Mr McKevitt added: “Boosted by a number of store openings in November, Aldi maintained its position as the fastest-growing supermarket and saw its market share rise by 0.7 percentage points to 7.6 per cent. Lidl’s market share also jumped – up 0.5 percentage points to 5.6 per cent – with sales of the supermarket’s premium Deluxe line experiencing particularly strong growth of 24 per cent.”
Buoyed by sales growth of 1.5 per cent, Asda led the big four pack and held market share at 15.0 per cent. Tesco and Sainsbury’s both saw sales fall, down 0.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively. Tesco’s market share now stands at 27.6 per cent compared to this time last year, while Sainsbury’s clocks in at 16.0 per cent.
Mr McKevitt continued: “One of only three retailers to win market share this period, Co-op increased sales by 4.5 per cent and attracted an additional 298,000 shoppers through its doors. Meanwhile, Morrisons’ sales increase of 0.5 per cent now marks two years of continual growth for the retailer, though compared with this time last year its market share has fallen by 0.1 percentage points.”
Iceland increased sales for the ninth consecutive period, holding market share steady at 2.2 per cent. Waitrose sales fell by 0.7 per cent and overall market share dropped to 4.9 per cent.
Online specialist Ocado experienced sales growth of 3.4 per cent, according to Kantar.