Sainsbury’s and Tesco enjoyed the strongest sales momentum of the Big Four retailers in the run-up to Christmas, Kantar Worldpanel data has revealed.

Data for the 12 weeks to December 23 revealed Sainsbury’s enjoyed 3.4% growth in sales ahead of Tesco at 2.9%, and Asda at 2.2%. Morrisons sales declined 0.6%.

While Tesco’s share has dipped from 30.6% to 30.5%, this is an improvement on the performance seen throughout 2012, when the average share drop was 0.4%.

The ongoing strong performances of the premium and discount ends of the market continued in the lead up to the festive period. Waitrose has achieved 5.4% sales growth, while Aldi, Lidl and Iceland posted respective growth rates of 30.1%, 10.8% and 9.7%. Iceland’s 2.2% share is a 12-year record for the retailer. 

The Co-operative’s sales grew 0.4% however its share was down to 6.3% from 6.6% year-on-year. Farm Foods continued to lose share, falling from 0.6% last year to 0.5% this year as sales slumped 8.8%. The total grocery market grew 3.2% year-on-year, the same increase as the previous quarter.

Kantar Worldpanel director Edward Garner said: “Among the big four supermarkets Sainsbury’s is, once again, the only retailer to increase its share compared with last year. Tesco’s share has dipped slightly, from 30.6% to 30.5%, however this is an improvement on the performance seen throughout 2012, suggesting that festive shoppers gave the retailer a welcome boost in the run up to Christmas.

“The well-publicised under-performance of Morrisons continues and it is the only big four supermarket to lose sales compared with last year. This highlights its need to address the lack of convenience outlets and an online offering in 2013, as already clearly identified by the retailer.”

He added: “The polarisation of the market is highlighted by consumer spend levels which were widely anticipated to drop this year. While 47% of shoppers did reduce their spend in the lead up to Christmas, 48% of shoppers increased their spend by 4.5% showing that ‘two nations’ continues to be a key feature of the grocery market.”

Total Till Roll - UK Consumer Spend
  12 Weeks to 25 December 2011  12 Weeks to 23 December 2012 % Change
 £000s%   ** £000s %   **%
Total Till Roll    35,950,880     36,595,410 1.8
 Total Grocers          25,838,080100.0%          26,674,250100.0%3.2
   Total Multiples            25,341,32098.1%            26,175,96098.1%3.3
      Tesco                7,904,45330.6%                8,136,39430.5%2.9
      Total Asda                4,515,39717.5%                4,613,40017.3%2.2
        Asda                4,513,87917.5%                4,613,40017.3%2.2
        Netto                      1,5180.0%                           -  0.0%-100.0
      Sainsbury’s                4,399,88217.0%                4,549,06417.1%3.4
      Morrisons                3,215,91612.4%                3,196,69912.0%-0.6
      The Co-operative                  1,674,7716.5%                1,677,1466.3%0.1
        Co-operative                  1,669,9476.5%                1,676,9796.3%0.4
        Somerfield                      4,8240.0%                         1680.0%-96.5
      Waitrose                1,146,6394.4%                1,209,0724.5%5.4
      Aldi                   660,5312.6%                   859,1293.2%30.1
      Lidl                   672,2292.6%                   744,8602.8%10.8
      Iceland                   530,1622.1%                   581,7862.2%9.7
      Farm Foods                   142,8420.6%                   130,2790.5%-8.8
      Other Multiples                   478,5001.9%                   478,1331.8%-0.1
   Symbols & Independents                 496,7561.9%                 498,2881.9%0.3