Sainsbury’s has emerged the Christmas winner out of the big four grocers according to market research company Nielsen.

According to Nielsen data, Sainsbury’s outperformed its peers over the Christmas period with a half point of market share gained and up 8% year-on-year sales in the 12 weeks to December 25, increasing to up 10.1% year-on-year in the last four weeks of the period.

Tesco and Morrisons grew in line with the market in the four weeks to December 25, both at up 6.9%, while Asda grew at just under, at up 5.8%.

Mike Watkins, senior manager retailer services at Nielsen, said: “It is interesting and impressive to see such strong growths from Sainsbury’s.  Initial Nielsen advertising spend data shows that the retailer spent less than its rivals on messaging in the run up to Christmas but it was clearly effective. 

“The weather gave us a white Christmas but we had an orange Christmas where supermarkets were concerned.  The retailer’s expansion programme that has created additional in store space, much given over to non-food merchandise, would have certainly contributed to this success in addition to the retailer’s long standing reputation in fresh food and private label quality.”

Of the smaller retailers, in the four weeks to December 25, Marks & Spencer was up 8.1%, Waitrose was up 11.2% and Co-op was up 21.5%.

Nielsen also said supermarkets’ sales grew 6.9% year-on-year in December thanks to a late rush during Christmas week. The first three weeks of December saw lacklustre sales as the snow hit trade but the week ending December 25 saw a 16% uplift.

Watkins added: “Sales for the week ending December 25 reached £3.36bn in grocery multiples which is the largest sales week Nielsen has ever reported.  The last minute rush and the fact that Christmas fell on a Saturday certainly helped by providing shoppers with a full week over which to stock up.”


RetailerAd Spend Oct – Dec 2010
Wm Morrisons26.8
Marks & Spencer23.4
Cooperative Food7.7
Iceland 7.3