Pre-Christmas sales show Aldi, Lidl stay strong

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Grocery market returns to growth, says Kantar

Related tags Supermarket Grocery store Wal-mart

The grocery market returned to growth in the 12 weeks to the end of December 7, with continued success for Waitrose and discounters Aldi and Lidl, according to Kantar Worldpanel data.

The overall market showed the slightest whisper of a spike in value of 0.1%, thanks to shoppers making slightly bigger shops, the market analyst said.

However, competition between the supermarkets was intensifying, said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel.

‘Price war’

“Britain’s supermarket price war is ramping up ahead of the all-important Christmas period,”​ said McKevitt. “Retailers are selling more items on promotion, leading to like-for-like prices falling by 0.7% compared with this time last year.

“Cheaper groceries are an early Christmas present for shoppers, saving them £182M in the past 12 weeks alone but this puts pressure on the supermarkets. We expect grocery deflation to continue well into 2015 as the price war rumbles on.

“At the discount end of the market the two German retailers Aldi and Lidl have reached a record combined market share this period with 8.6% of the market, up 1.5 percentage points over the past year. Aldi recorded the fastest growing sales of any retailer at 22.3% and is followed closely behind by Lidl with 18.3% sales growth.”

Waitrose’s impressive run

Meanwhile Waitrose, a traditionally strong performer in the festive season, had continued its impressive run, said McKevitt, growing sales by 6%, extending an unbroken pattern of growth dating back to February 2009.

Asda’s sales dipped by 1.0% taking its share down to 16.7% however it did record the best performance among the big four.

Tesco’s sales slowed by 2.7% in the latest 12 week period – its best result since June, showing some limited signs of stabilisation for the retailer.

Sainsbury and Morrisons both lost share, with sales dipping by 1.8% and 3.2% respectively.

Meanwhile, figures from analyst Information Resources International (IRI) indicated top supermarkets’ grocery sales still fell in the two weeks to December 6, although the decline had been slowed by stronger performance in alcoholic drinks.

Liqueur and spirits

Sales of liqueur and spirits grew by 4.3% over the fortnight, while wine and champagne fell by 2.8%, but against a decrease of 4% for the previous two weeks.

Other winners included sales of cards, decorations and trees, which continued to show growth over last year, up 3.1%, with after dinner confectionery and dates also significantly outpacing last year’s performance. 

Sales of whole turkeys had also started to move, with sales up year-on-year by 13% in the past two weeks, according to IRI. 

“Sales are starting to ramp up as they always do in this period of Christmas trading, but it’s all a bit slower than it could be. Either supermarket sales are being lost to the discounters, or alternatively, shoppers are leaving it to the last few weeks,”​ said IRI strategic insight director Tim Eales.

“Most probably it’s a bit of each. Either way, it’s a tired start to the festive season for the supermarkets, with the exception of turkeys, after dinner mints, dates and a nice liqueur to wash it all down.”

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