Christmas spirit yet to appear as supermarket sales slump

All of the country’s big supermarkets have suffered a slump in sales as shoppers delayed their Christmas preparations and went elsewhere for Black Friday discounts.

Total British grocery sales slowed to 0.5 per cent in the 12 weeks to December 1, with all of the “Big Four” supermarkets losing market share to the discounters Aldi and Lidl, according to market research by Kantar.

Tesco was the best performing of the major supermarkets with sales falling by 0.8 per cent, Sainsbury’s sales decreased by 1.1 per cent and Asda sales were down by 1.9 per cent. Sales at Morrisons fell by 2.9 per cent, knocking its market share by 0.4 points to 10.1 per cent.

As a result of the sales declines the Big Four’s combined share of the grocery market dropped to 67.7 per cent, down from 69.1 per cent last year.

“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”, Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said. “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.”

British consumers usually return to the main supermarkets in the run up to Christmas for their big festive shop because they want to “trade up” to better-quality produce to treat their friends and family. However, the discounters have invested heavily in their premium food ranges to try to persuade more shoppers to do a bigger portion of their festive shop with them.

Aldi’s sales were up 6.2 per cent over the past 12 weeks, bagging an additional £129 million in extra sales.

Lidl also reached a record market share of 6.1 per cent after sales jumped by 9.3 per cent, helped by a voucher scheme that offered money off baskets worth more than £40 and encouraged consumers to do a bigger shop.

Co-op, Ocado and Iceland’s sales all rose in the 12 weeks while Waitrose fell by 0.8 per cent.

Source: The Times