Sainsbury's was the only big four retailer to achieve growth over the last quarter, according to Kantar

Sainsbury’s was the best performer of the big four retailers over the last quarter, according to the latest figures from Kantar.

Sainsburys was the best performer of the big four retailers, according to Kantar. Picture: JPI Media
Sainsburys was the best performer of the big four retailers, according to Kantar. Picture: JPI Media

The latest grocery market share figures from Kantar show year-on-year supermarket sales grew by 1.3 per cent over the past 12 weeks as Sainsbury’s returned to growth.

Aldi and Lidl now account for 14 per cent of grocery market sales, according to Kantar.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “The grocery market seems to have finally edged out from under the shadow of 2018 and tough comparisons with the strong summer sales of last year. Sainsbury’s performance reflects this – increasing sales at its fastest rate since October 2018 to make it the only big four retailer to achieve growth.

"The grocer recently announced plans to phase out its value ‘Basics’ line which made it into 12 per cent of shopping baskets during the past 12 weeks, so it will be interesting to see how replacement brands like ‘Stamford Street’ and ‘J James and family’ fare as they become more widely available.”

As growth accelerates in the overall market, Brexit uncertainty continues.

Mr McKevitt said: “Well-documented concerns about the availability of popular products in the event of a no-deal Brexit have not yet translated into a consistent increase in purchasing. Sales of dry pasta and healthcare products over the past four weeks were 9 per cent and 7 per cent higher than the same time last year, but those of canned products fell by 2 per cent and frozen food by 1 per cent.

"While a quarter of British consumers say they are considering stockpiling, it seems they are waiting to see how the next few weeks play out and we expect if they take any action it will be closer to the deadline if a chaotic trading situation looks increasingly likely.

“One event people are already planning for on October 31 is Halloween, spending a collective £1.5 million on pumpkins in the past 12 weeks. Those sales are 29 per cent higher than at this point before Halloween last year and retailers should be taking note and aiming to capitalise on the celebration in the coming weeks.”

The proportion of sales on promotion increased for the first time in nearly four and a half years this period to 32.3 per cent, driven by Tesco’s ‘100 years of value’ campaign and Sainsbury’s ‘Price Lockdown’.

The performances of Tesco, Asda and Morrisons all improved compared with last month, but sales are still down year on year, according to Kantar.

Tesco sales declined by 0.2 per cent as its market share was reduced to 27.0 per cent.

Mr McKevitt said: “The announcement that Dave Lewis will depart as Tesco chief executive next year has inspired inevitable reflection on his tenure and it’s worth noting that the retailer’s sales were in freefall when he joined in September 2014 – dropping 4.5 per cent year on year. Since then Tesco’s absolute and relative performance has improved and profitability has returned, but its market share is down from 28.8 per cent at the start of his time there.”

Sales at Asda fell by 0.9 per cent during the past 12 weeks, dropping 0.3 percentage points of market share to 15.0 per cent, while Morrisons remains behind the rest of the pack, declining by 1.8 per cent with a market share of 9.9 per cent. Lidl and Aldi continue to gain share.

Mr McKevitt said: “The discounters now account for a combined 14 per cent of UK grocery sales which is 0.8 percentage points higher than last year, an increase that’s worth nearly one billion pounds annually. While traditionally known for its own label ranges, Lidl’s 8.2 per cent growth was boosted by sales of branded goods which grew twice as quickly.

“Meanwhile, Aldi grew by 7.3 per cent during the past 12 weeks as it attracted more new customers than any other retailer with 689,000 additional shoppers. Its small but growing ‘Everyday Essentials’ also added an extra £18 million in sales.”

Co-op grew at its fastest rate since April at 3.9 per cent as the convenience retailer’s £5 ‘Super saver deal’ drove up sales of fresh pizza by 20 per cent and ice cream by 17 per cent.

Online specialist Ocado continued its run as Britain’s fastest-growing supermarket – a position it’s held since May 2019 – as its growth sped up slightly to 13.3 per cent, according to Kantar.

Iceland sales rose by 0.5 per cent, supported by widely available coupons, while Waitrose declined by 1.1% and its market share slipped 0.1 percentage points to 5.1 per cent.