Supermarkets’ non-food sales growth has slackened but the grocers are still well positioned to steal share from traditional general merchandise rivals, according to a Mintel report.

The study, Non-foods in Grocery Multiples UK, revealed sales growth slowed from double digits in 2007 to 5.4 per cent last year, taking total sales to £20.4bn.

The slowdown was attributed to price deflation in music, a reduction in growth in markets where grocers are well established and sectors such as electricals slowing after initial high growth.

Mintel report editor Richard Caines said: “Growth has slowed but it will remain strong throughout the recession for the grocers as they offer a more value-conscious range. Supermarkets also have the benefit of impulse buys as shoppers are already in their stores for food, so they have the footfall.”

The report found clothing and footwear have been one of the main growth contributors, driven particularly by an improved performance of the Asda range George and the rapid development of Sainsbury’s Tu.

Tesco and Asda are the front-runners in non-food, but Sainsbury’s is fast gaining ground. Morrisons will become stronger as it seeks to strengthen its non-food offer, but Caines said Morrisons’ stores are smaller than the rest of the big four, therefore “they will probably just focus on a few key areas of non-food”.