Grocery chiefs Philip Clarke and Justin King were both aligned today when asked about consumer sentiment.

Grocery chiefs Philip Clarke and Justin King were both aligned today when asked about consumer sentiment.

Both said consumers had started to feel better about the future, the jobs market, and more optimistic in general but that hadn’t translated to shopping habits.

Household budgets remain under pressure and while the newspapers are not quite as full of doom and gloom as the past couple of years, consumers are still minding their pennies.

King said while there are a lot of good economic indicators and an improvement in sentiment, this is simply “less bad” than it was rather than a return to the historical highs of optimism.

He took the opportunity to repeat what he’s been saying for a couple of years now - that changes in shopping habits since the financial crisis were here to stay. Customers are switching stores, brands, own-label, and doing top-up shopping a lot more to waste less.

And he doesn’t think these habits will change now.

He’s probably right. And the success of discounter Aldi shows that. While Aldi doesn’t provide a full shop, it has clearly calved out a niche that has proved a winner with shoppers.

So while the competition hots up between the big four, especially as Tesco starts to get the UK ship in order, it’s the likes of Aldi that they still need to keep an eye on.