Supermarket sales growth has slowed as UK prepares for General Election, says Kantar

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar,
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar,
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Supermarket sales growth slowed as the UK prepared for the General Election, according to new data

The latest grocery market share figures from Kantar show year-on-year supermarket sales growth slowed again during the past 12 weeks to a modest 0.5 per cent.

Amid the uncertainty of a General Election, a lacklustre Black Friday and a wet autumn, shoppers have been delaying their Christmas preparations and are waiting to stock up on festive supplies, Kantar said.

On average consumers made one fewer visit to the shops over the past three months than this time last year.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “We’re yet to see consumers ramp up their spending in the run up to Christmas and, as anticipated, Black Friday only brought a limited boost for the grocers.

"The number of people claiming to take advantage of Black Friday this year fell to 53 per cent from 57 per cent in 2018 with signs of ‘promotion fatigue’ among consumers, an increased scepticism regarding the value of the deals on offer and some retailers pulling back from the day all together.

"The event is always less significant in the supermarket calendar and this year only 5 per cent of Black Friday deal hunters bought something from a grocer.”

Mr McKevitt added: “With the General Election now only days away, people are waiting to fill their cupboards for the festive break and sales of Christmas puddings and seasonal biscuits are down 16 per cent and 12 per cent in the past four weeks, compared with this time last year.

"But there are some purchases that just can’t wait – £28 million was spent on advent calendars in the past four weeks, up 1 per cent, and sales of fresh and frozen party food rose 7 per cent as our diaries fill up with festive events and gatherings.”

Sales growth of 9.3 per cent during the past 12 weeks propelled Lidl to a new record high market share of 6.1 per cent, according to Kantar.

Mr McKevitt added: “The good news continues for Lidl and 11.9 million shoppers visited one of its stores in the past three months – that’s 652,000 more than this time last year. Lidl has been encouraging its customers to make bigger shops, running newspaper voucher deals that offer £10 off when the holder spends £40, and larger baskets over the qualifying spend made up 17% of trips in November.”

Meanwhile, Aldi’s year-on-year growth of 6.2 per cent is worth £129 million in additional sales and takes its market share to 8.0 per cent, Kantar said.

The discounter increased sales of its cheapest ‘Everyday Essentials’ range by 29 per cent during the past 12 weeks but also served customers with a bit more money to spend – selling 15 per cent more of its premium ‘Specially Selected’ brand than this time last year, Kantar said.

The Co-op achieved growth of 3.6 per cent, with customers spending an extra £12 million in the chilled convenience aisles, on items including pizza, ready meals and cooked meats. Visitors to the convenience retailer also spent an additional £10 million on fresh fruit, vegetables and salads compared with the same time last year.

The four largest grocers came under further pressure this period with their collective market share dropping to 67.7 per cent, compared with 69.1 per cent this time last year.

Mr McKevitt added: “While the big four all lost share in the past 12 weeks, 98 per cent of the British public still visited at least one of their stores during the past three months. Based on previous years, we expect them to increase their proportion of sales in the coming weeks as shoppers turn to familiar favourites and the traditional retailers in December.”

Kantar added: "Tesco was the best performing of the largest grocers over the past 12 weeks though it’s too early to say whether the newly launched Clubcard Plus subscription scheme has had an impact as sales fell by 0.8 per cent.

"Sales at Sainsbury’s fell by 1.1 per cent and at Asda by 1.9 per cent, resulting in market shares of 15.7 per cent and 14.6 per cent respectively. Morrisons’ share of grocery sales dropped back 0.4 percentage points to 10.1 per cent as sales declined by 2.9 per cent."

Ocado continued to be the fastest growing grocer, with sales 13.7 per cent higher than this time in 2018, Kantar added.

Iceland’s growth accelerated to 3.2 per cent, its best performance since November 2018, and its share held steady at 2.2 per cent.

While still declining, Waitrose's fall in sales of 0.8 per cent means its performance has improved for the fifth month in a row.