Big Four Supermarkets All See Drop In Sales For The First Time In A Year

Latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending 24 April 2016 show all the major supermarkets posting a sales decline for first time in a year as growth in the sector slowed to just 0.1%. This was a slowdown from the 1.1% reported in April, which was boosted by an early Easter.

Sainsbury’s remained the best performing amongst the big four supermarkets, although its sales fell back by 0.4% – the first time the retailer has seen a decline since July last year. Meanwhile, Morrisons is still feeling the impact of having less store space than last year with its sales down by 2.6% on the same period last year. Having shown signs of recovery in recent months, sales at Tesco were down by 1.3%, whilst Asda continued to lose market share after its sales slumped 5.1%.

Despite the difficult trading conditions, the Co-operative’s renaissance continued, growing sales by 3.3% year-on-year. Its market share has risen to 6.2% as refurbished stores and an improvement in range has meant shoppers are visiting more frequently and spending more per trip.

Waitrose also gained market share this period, up by 0.1 percentage points to 5.2% on the back of 1.5% sales growth.

Meanwhile, the discounters maintained their record share high of 10.4% which they first reached last month. Lidl was the fastest growing with sales up by 15.4% as shopper numbers increased by 648,000. At Aldi sales were up by 12.5% as the discounter added an additional 732,000 shoppers in the last 12 weeks – more than any other retailer.

Commenting on the overall market conditions, Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Consumers are enjoying a golden period of cheaper groceries with like-for-like prices falling every month since September 2014. Nearly two years of falling prices mean the average household is spending £78.10 a week in the supermarket, so consumers have annually saved more than £400 than if prices had risen at the same rate as the last decade.

“Yet lower prices are not the result of more groceries being bought on promotion. In fact promotional levels fell in the last year – in the past 12 weeks 38.5% of spend was on promoted goods, a decline from the 39.8% last April. Retailers are aiming for simplicity in their pricing and only a quarter of promotional spend is now through multibuy deals – a 24% drop on last year. This change has been evident across every grocer but most notably in Sainsbury’s, where only 7% of deals are now multibuys. Straight price cut deals tend to offer greater discounts so shoppers will see these as a welcome benefit across the market.”

He added that the overall market volume growth of 1% was in line with Britain’s increased population. “Individual households have stopped increasing the amount of groceries they buy and while it is tempting to correlate lower volumes with the uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum there is no evidence that supermarket purchasing has any significant link with consumer confidence,” said McKevitt.