Tesco leads festive growth among big four supermarkets

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Tesco led bumper festive sales growth among the big four supermarkets in the 12 weeks ending 31 December 2017, but the Co-op Group suffered a decline in sales, according to Kantar Worldpanel’s latest figures.

When compared to the same period in 2016, shoppers spent an additional £1bn at UK supermarkets during the three months including the 2017 Christmas period. This helped overall supermarket sales increase by 3.8% in value.

Despite current economic uncertainty, UK households spent a record £1,054 on groceries in the 12 weeks ending 31 December, with many shoppers continuing to trade up to more expensive items. A record £469m was spent on premium own label lines in December 2017, with chilled items, fresh meat and bakery featuring most prominently.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: ”Shoppers parted with £747m on 22 December alone, making the Friday before Christmas the busiest shopping day ever recorded. For most of the year, location tends to be the most important factor in choosing where to shop, but over Christmas customers are actually prepared to travel further in search of specific festive products or better value.”

Mince pie sales rose by 13.2% year on year, while £3.9bn worth of alcohol was bought during the three month Christmas period. Alcohol sales grew by 5.1% compared with 2016, with sales of spirits up 7.6%.

Tesco was the fastest growing of the big four supermarkets, with sales up 3.1% during the same 12 week period. Sales of Tesco’s standard own brand range jumped by 6.4% and Tesco Express stores also benefited from restricted Sunday opening hours, as Christmas Day 2017 fell on a Monday.

Supermarket discounters Aldi and Lidl both saw sales increase by 16.8% year on year, with both chains increasing their market share during the busy festive period.

Lidl opened nine stores during the Christmad period, taking its total number of stores to 693 - an increase of 43 since 2016. The German chain also said customers bought about 600 tonnes of Brussels sprouts, 17 million mince pies and more than 800,000 litres of champagne and prosecco.

Meanwhille, sales at Asda grew by 2.2% during the same period, helped by a strong online performance which saw the retailer’s average shopping basket increase to more than 16 items. Morrisons increased sales by a similar amount, 2.1%, with ambient and frozen foods performing well.

Sainsbury’s saw sales grow across its convenience stores, larger supermarkets and online deliveries, with an overall jump of 2.0%. The retailer is also continuing its strategy to offer a reduced number of promotions, selling 5.6% fewer items on offer than during the same period in 2016. 

Sales at Waitrose increased by 2.3%, but sales at the Co-operative Group fell by 0.2%. The group’s results weren’t helped by the increase in overall online supermarket sales, up 4.9% year on year; the best online Christmas performance on record. 

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