The figures for the 12 weeks to August 17 indicated the overall growth in grocery market sales had fallen to just 0.8%.
Ed Garner, director at Kantar Worldpanel, attributed this to plunging food prices. “Competitive pricing among the big grocers and deflation in the price of staple items such as vegetables, milk and bread has driven inflation down yet again,” he said.
In that intensely competitive atmosphere, only Asda and Waitrose had distinguished themselves by growing their share of the total grocery market to 17.2% and 4.9% respectively, Kantar said.
“Asda and Waitrose have achieved growth with differing strategies,” said Garner. “Asda has pushed its ‘Price Lock’ strategy to keep prices on everyday essential items low, while Waitrose is running competitive offers on home delivery alongside offers for myWaitrose card users allied to its overall quality and provenance positioning.”
Meanwhile, Aldi and Lidl maintained their record shares of 4.8% and 3.6% respectively, with 53% of households in Great Britain shopping at either outlet over the past 12 weeks, Kantar added.
Morgan Stanley analyst Edouard Aubin said: “Polarisation remains more pronounced in the UK than in any other European market.”
With the exception of Asda, the top four supermarkets were feeling the pressure, with Sainsbury even suffering a slight drop in share, from 16.5% to 16.4% over the period, it said.
Aubin said: “This is Sainsbury’s worst monthly performance in over a decade.” It contrasted sharply with its growth earlier on this year, he said.
Clive Black, director and head of research at Shore Capital Stockbrokers, highlighted Tesco’s struggle as well, branding it “bottom of the conference league”.
“Tesco UK sustains particularly weak trade, judging by this analysis from Kantar, with sales said to be 4% lower year-on-year for the 12-week period,” he said. “Such trade is against favourable comparatives and underscores the reasons behind ‘regime change’ to our minds.”
Aubin confirmed: “Tesco continued to perform very poorly according to Kantar data.”
However, Black was more optimistic about Morrisons, claiming the data showed it could be “turning the corner” following its disastrous 2013 full-year performance.
“Whilst Morrisons also has very favourable comparatives, could the change in trading strategy announced in March 2014, to a more simple value based offer, be starting to gain traction?” Black asked. “Kantar suggests that sales fell 1.9% in the 12-weeks to the 18th August, a big surprise to us, suggesting potentially strong recent trade.”