It is the fastest rate of growth for the grocery sector since September 2013, according to research by retail analyst Kantar Worldpanel.
Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt said strong sales of premium Easter chocolate had made the biggest contribution to market growth.
“In the past 12 weeks, British shoppers splashed out £325M on Easter eggs with almost three quarters of the population buying at least one,” said McKevitt.
“Consumers plumped for more premium confectionery lines this year – the average price paid for an Easter egg rising by 8.6% to £1.65 – while 20M packs of hot cross buns were bought in the Easter week alone.”
‘20M packs of hot cross buns’
Sales for the 10 major supermarkets had also grown for the first time in three-and-a-half years, said McKevitt. But the big four – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury and Morrisons – all lost market share.
Tesco’s total sales grew 1.9% – its own-label sales increased by 6% – while its market share fell 0.5% to 27.5%.
Sales at Sainsbury rose by 1.7% in the 12 weeks leading to April 23, with growth coming from all three channels – its Local convenience stores, larger supermarkets and online. The retailer’s market share fell to 16.1%.
“At a category level, Sainsbury is performing well in the fresh and chilled aisles – fruit, vegetables and salads are up by 2.6%, suggesting its ‘Food Dancing’ campaign is resonating with consumers eager to try more scratch cooking,” said McKevitt.
Asda increased its year-on-year sales for the first time since October 2014, helped by 250,000 additional shoppers and strong online performance. However, its overall market share fell by 0.4% to 15.6%.
Fastest growing of the big four
Morrisons’ premium own-label lines had helped it become the fastest growing of the big four retailers, according to McKevitt.
“Its ‘The Best’ line is performing well following last year’s launch and has attracted more affluent shoppers through its doors,” he said.
“However, this growth is behind the overall market and Morrisons’ total market share has slipped 0.2% to 10.4%.”
Online retailer Ocado experienced the most growth and was ahead of online offerings available in the grocery market.
McKevitt added: “While fewer than 3% of British households have shopped with Ocado in the past 12 weeks these consumers are considerably more affluent than average, meaning the retailer performs well in high-value categories such as fresh fish, chilled drinks and breakfast cereals.”