Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe said shoppers started “downtrading” over the crucial Christmas period, impacting sales of its premium ranges.
The grocer, which has historically come into its own during the golden quarter with its Taste the Difference range, said sales of its premium-tier products grew “slower” than in previous quarters.
Coupe suggested consumers were more “careful” with their spending during the festive period and said he expected the trend to continue as Brexit “uncertainty” continues to swirl.
Coupe insisted grocery like for likes were “slightly positive” during the period, though he did not break out specific figures.
But his warnings over consumers being more “cautious” with their spending echoed the sentiments of Morrisons boss David Potts.
“We saw people downtrading and being more careful in the items they bought, which meant the average item price was lower than we would have expected”
Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s
Following the Bradford-based grocer’s Christmas trading update yesterday, Potts said shoppers became “increasingly savvy” during November and December.
Coupe told journalists this morning: “There has been a general downtrading. People have been very, very careful in the way that they have spent their money and we can see that reflected in our grocery business.
“In effect, we saw people downtrading and being more careful in the items that they bought, which meant the average item price was lower than we would have expected.
“There is definitely caution out there and of course, as we go through the next period of uncertainty, I suspect that will continue to be reflected in the way that customers behave.”
Asked how such cautiousness impacted sales of its Taste the Difference lines, Coupe added: “People have been very careful in the way they spent their money. We have seen that reflected in our Taste the Difference range. Although it grew, it did not grow as fast as it did in the previous quarter.”
Retail Week understands growth across the Taste the Difference range was also considerably slower year on year.
Sainsbury's Coupe: Shoppers 'downtraded' over Christmas
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Sainsbury's boss Mike Coupe: Shoppers 'downtraded' over Christmas