UK supermarkets enjoy early autumn sales gains, reports Nielsen

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Latest supermarket sales growth

Latest supermarket sales growth

Despite fewer voucher promotions to support footfall and the level of sales on promotions plateauing at 35%, UK retail grocery sales for the four weeks ending 13 October 2012 still improved on the rate of growth seen in the previous four weeks, according to the latest retailer performance figures from Nielsen.

It found aggregate sales growth for the UK’s leading supermarkets during the four weeks ending 13 October was +2.9% higher than the same period a year ago. In the previous four weeks (ending 15 September 2012) sales growth was 2.5% higher year-on-year.

In contrast, unit sales (volume) slowed a little, increasing by only +0.9% year-on-year – compared to 1.1% year-on-year growth for the previous four weeks.

Over the last 12 weeks Sainsbury and Waitrose continued to outperform the other leading supermarkets, with both retailers gaining market share. Asda and Tesco are still growing sales faster than Morrisons, whilst Aldi and Lidl look well positioned to have another stellar performance this Christmas.

Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight, Mike Watkins, said: “Early autumn trading remains solid, if unspectacular, and the last four weeks have seen a continuation of the post-Olympic trend of positive unit growth compared to earlier in the year. However, as inflation is currently at a low point, value growths are lower compared to this time last year. 

“Last week saw the start of the tactical use of money-off vouchers ahead of half term, with Asda, Tesco and Morrisons all offering a £5 discount on the next shop as they seek first-mover advantage ahead of Christmas trading. The next few weeks up until mid-November will be important in assessing the level of consumer demand this Christmas. Based on current trends, we anticipate another increase in promotional participation as both retailers and brand owners seek to kick-start seasonal purchasing. This looks like the calm before the promotional storm that lies ahead.”