Polarisation in the grocery market is on the increase, with Waitrose and Aldi making major gains in sales and market share in the past year, according to the latest figures from retail insight company Nielsen.

In the 12 weeks ending June 22, Aldi grew sales by 24.3% compared to the same period last year, while Waitrose added 8.4%.

Further evidence of the polarising marketplace was demonstrated by the fact that Sainsbury’s was the only one of the big four supermarkets to maintain market share during the same period (stable at 15.8%), with Tesco, Asda, and Morrisons all losing share, while Waitrose, M&S, Aldi, and Iceland made gains on their larger rivals.

Aggregate sales value growth for the UK’s leading supermarkets during the four weeks ending 22 June 2013 was 2.3% year-on-year, while unit sales (volume) increased by only 0.1% year-on-year. The strongest growths were in the heavily-promoted category of confectionery (up 8% in value year-on-year), seasonally-driven produce (7.6%) and fresh meat (4.4%). 

Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins commented: “With real household incomes still under pressure and consumers shopping around for the best deals, supermarkets have maintained in-store promotions and the percentage of spend on offer remained broadly unchanged. Some retailers are also investing considerably in fuel savings or money-off vouchers as a way of differentiating from the competition.

“With shopper disloyalty a factor in any four-week period, the timing of advertising and promotional activity is key. So with no major ‘event’ to advertise around, growths have been more dependent on regular, monthly shopping trips. Consequently, Aldi has outperformed the market significantly due to a 9% increase in spend by shoppers per visit.”