The grocery market has returned to inflation for the first time since 2014 during a Christmas trading period that saw shoppers splash out almost £0.5bn extra into food and drink to boost total sales by 1.8%, the latest snapshot from Kantar Worldpanel shows.
Standout improvements in sales during the 12 weeks ending January 1 were Aldi and Iceland, up 11.8% and 9.6% to £1.68bn and £628m respectively.
Asda and symbols & independents were the biggest losers, off 2.4% to £4.32bn and 1.4% to £500m respectively. Sainsbury’s suffered a marginal 0.1% sales decline to £4.65bn.
The Co-op saw sales increase 2.4% to £1.68bn and Tesco continued its recent sales revival with an increase of 1.3%, particularly helped by its fresh food performance, although this failed to stop its market share from falling back 0.1 percentage points to 28.2%.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “With Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday and giving shoppers more time to buy their final festive trimmings, the single busiest shopping day of the year was Friday 23 December with over half the population braving a grocery store. The typical household spend for December reached £365 this year – £52 more than the average month.
“Thanks to continued investment in premium own label brands across the major retailers in 2016, such products finished the year with record 12 week sales of almost £1bn. Top-tier lines including own label fresh and smoked fish, cooked meats such as ham, and wine performed particularly well.”
The long-anticipated return to inflation suggested that the speed of growth in the overall market would continue to hasten this year, and both consumers and retailers would be looking at ways to avoid increasing the cost of the weekly shop.
“Last year retailers focused on simplifying their discounts and offers, and the level of promotional sales has fallen to 37% as a result – the lowest level over Christmas since 2009,” said McKevitt.
Grocery inflation stands at 0.2% for the 12 weeks period ending 30 consecutive periods of deflation.
Kantar said falling prices in categories such as eggs and bacon offset rising prices in markets such as fish and butter.
Meanwhile the latest figures from Nielsen, show takings at the tills climbed 3.3% year on year for the four weeks to December 31 – the highest growth since 2012.
Confectionery sales climbed 9.5%, beers, wines and spirits 5.7%, Deli/Cheese/Meats 5.6% and soft drinks 4.3%, it said.