Discounters reap the benefits of restrained household budgets, Nielsen reports

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Latest supermarket sales

Latest supermarket sales

Shoppers are economising but not compromising, according to the latest retailer performance figures released by global information and insights company Nielsen.

UK consumers are spending more at value retailers (discounters) to make household budgets stretch further, but are also willing to indulge for events, such as Valentine’s Day, researchers found.

Aggregate sales value growth for the UK’s leading supermarkets during the four weeks ending 2 March 2013 was up +3.2% year-on-year. For the previous four-week period (ending 2 February 2013), year-on-year sales value growth was +2.2%. 

Unit sales (volume) increased 0.3% year-on-year – compared to staying flat year-on-year during the previous four weeks.

Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight, Mike Watkins, said: “Despite high levels of sales on promotion, retailers’ growths are still stubbornly weak as shoppers remain constrained by falling disposable income. The end of 2012 saw almost 70% of shoppers changing spending habits to stay within their household budget and it would be no surprise to see this continue in 2013.”

The ‘spend on offer’ at the grocery multiples has remained for the third consecutive month at 33% of sales, which is still historically high, said Nielsen. It has though helped support discretionary consumer spend during the year’s first seasonal events such as Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day.

Watkins said: “Shoppers are still cautious about grocery spending, but they are willing to spend when it matters on items such as treats and indulgences. Confectionery saw pleasing sales uplifts, particularly around Valentine’s Day, with growths up +11% year-on-year at the major supermarkets. The early Easter season is another opportunity to drive similar incremental growth.”

Waitrose is still the fastest growing supermarket and Sainsbury’s growths remain ahead of Tesco, Asda and Morrisons.
Watkins said: “Aldi and Lidl continue to gain market share as over one third of British households now shop at grocery discounters each month in an attempt to make budgets stretch further. This behaviour is unlikely to change in the medium term, and we can expect the major supermarkets to keep reinforcing their own value-for-money message as they battle for market share.”