Tesco has surpassed its big four rivals for sales growth for the eighth consecutive month, Nielsen said, as grocery sector sales recorded a “slight slowdown”.
According to data from Nielsen, the supermarket giant recorded a 2.7% rise in sales in the 12 weeks to November 4, comfortably ahead of Sainsbury’s 2.1% sales increase, Morrisons’ 1.8% boost and Asda’s 1.7% growth.
UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins said: “Tesco has maintained good momentum ahead of the all-important Christmas trading season. They continued to attract new shoppers over the summer, who visited more often, giving a further boost to growth in the last month.”
However, rival data from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks to November 5 showed that Sainsbury’s was leading the big four, with sales growth of 2.6%. Kantar said Tesco grew sales by 2.3% and Morrisons by 2.1%.
According to Nielsen, nine of out 10 of the grocers recorded an increase in sales with the exception of Co-op, which posted a 0.7% fall due to the year-on-year impact of its sale of 298 stores to McColl’s.
Overall grocery sales increased 3.1% year on year – although, excluding the discounters, this figure shrank to 1.7% while volumes decreased 0.5%.
Nielsen said this represents as “slight slowdown” of sales growth, which it attributed to unseasonably warm October weather.
Grocers’ general merchandise sales were down 5.5% year on year.
Watkins said that although the outlook for grocers this Christmas is positive, they will be more dependent than usual on their marketing campaigns to encourage “people to spend more at the supermarkets as shoppers are now experiencing ‘peak inflation’, and a squeeze on discretionary spend is already being felt by many non-food retailers”.
Kantar data revealed that supermarket sales have increased in value by 3.4% – its highest level since November 2013 – and said that Christmas shopping has “well and truly started”, with consumers snapping up 10.1 million packs of festive biscuits in October alone.
Alcohol sales have ramped up too, up 5.3% year-on-year.
It crowned Lidl Britain’s fastest growing supermarket for the fifth consecutive period, with sales up 15.1% during the period.
Commenting on the dynamic convenience-store market, Kantar Worldpanel head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt said: “Amid news that Nisa’s shareholders have backed Co-op’s takeover of the group, there is plenty of room for growth: convenience stores in all their forms currently account for 12.1% of grocery sales.
”Nearly 60% of UK households currently visit this type of retailer, spending £3.2 billion in smaller stores during the past 12 weeks. Co-op is already the nation’s most frequently visited grocer – shoppers pop in almost twice a week on average.”