John Lewis-owned supermarket chain Waitrose raced ahead of rivals in recent months to post market-leading growth while discounters’ performance continued to slow.

Waitrose’s sales advanced by 10.2% in the 12 weeks to August 9, when the grocery sector average was 5.6%, the latest TNS Worldpanel figures showed.

Although Aldi and Lidl still outperformed, increases of 8.1% and 6.3% were pale in comparison to the 26% rise Aldi posted at the end of last year.

The divergent trends were evidence that “recession panic is abating as far as the grocery sector is concerned”, said TNS Worldpanel director Edward Garner. Waitrose, helped by the strong showing of its Essential range and the conversion of stores bought following the Co-op’s acquisition of Somerfield, now a 3.9% market share compared to 3.7% last year.

Market leader Tesco, which this week doubled the points awarded to Clubcard users, suffered a market share decline from 31.2% to 31% year-on-year but sales rose 5%.

Morrisons increased sales by 9.2% to claim an 11.4% market share, while Asda’s sales growth was 8.3%, delivering a share of 17.2%. Sainsbury’s advanced 7.6% to control a 15.9% share.

Grocery price inflation over the period was 5.1% compared to a peak of 9.2% in October 2008. TNS said: “It is important to remember that the drop in inflation does not mean that prices are falling, merely rising more slowly.”

Separately, Nielsen data showed that poor summer weather resulted in a slowing of grocery sales growth to 4% year-on-year in the four weeks to August 8 compared to 6.6% in June.

Nielsen retailer services senior manager Mike Watkins said: “Aside from the drab weather and the seasonality of food sales this may also be an indication that we can expect 4% to 5% value growths to be the norm for the rest of 2009 as food inflation continues to slow.”


  12 Weeks to 10 August 2008  12 Weeks to 09 August 2009 change
 £000s%   * £000s %   *%
Total Till Roll27,921,200 28,714,900 2.8
 Total Grocers20,372,840100.00%21,504,670100.00%5.6
   Total Multiples19,861,61097.50%21,037,05097.80%5.9
     Total Co-operative  1,862,6719.10%1,759,2768.20%-5.6
      Co-operative  1,110,7785.50%1,183,8905.50%6.6
     Farm Foods104,5340.50%115,6480.50%10.6
     Other Freezer Centres51,1080.30%50,8470.20%-0.5
     Other Multiples339,2621.70%379,1011.80%11.7
   Total Independents511,2262.50%467,6242.20%-8.5
     Total Symbols181,2770.90%163,8140.80%-9.6
     Other Independents329,9501.60%303,8101.40%-7.9

* = Percentage Share of Total Grocers