Unseasonably warm March boosts UK supermarket sales, reports Nielsen

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Watkins: supermarkets buoyed by warm March and events

Watkins: supermarkets buoyed by warm March and events

An unseasonably warm March, coupled with Mother’s Day and Easter preparations, led to an improvement in sales growths at UK grocery retailers last month,according to the latest retailer performance figures released today by Nielsen.

Headline value year-on-year growth at the UK’s grocery multiples for the four weeks to 31 March 2012 was +4.1% (up from 2.3% year-on-year growth for February 2012). Volume growth was still down, however, at -1.5% (from -1.4% for February 2012) as shoppers maintain a grip on overall spend.       

Asda, Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose continue to outperform the market, as they have done consistently since the end of 2011.

“Shoppers are still looking to get the best value for money for their weekly groceries,” said Nielsen senior manager for retailer services Mike Watkins, “but they were also prepared to indulge in affordable treats. There were strong performances last month in crisps and snacks (+7%), soft drinks (+6%) and particularly confectionery (+18%).”

However, shopper spend remains volatile. Watkins again: “While shoppers were prepared to spend on events and seasonal treats early in March, they returned to economising towards the end. The impact of falling disposable income and recent increases in fuel prices is reflected in the negative unit growths, which are continuing at similarly low level to those experienced last year.

“Looking at the coming four-week period, it’s likely to be tougher for supermarkets to live up to last year’s April performance; which was boosted by a combination of a late Easter, the Royal Wedding and a warm month. But from the end of this May, the 2012 ‘year of events’ will commence and we anticipate a progressive and sustained sales build though to August.”

Table: 12-Weekly % Share of grocery market spend by retailer and value sales % change

The figures in the table are based on 12 weeks sales through to 31 March 2012 compared with the same 12-week period in 2010/11. Source: Nielsen Total Till, Nielsen Homescan

  % share,12 weeks to2 Apr 2011 % share,12 weeks to31 Mar 2012 % value change vs same 12 Weeks Year Ago
TOTAL TESCO

28.8%

28.6%

3.3

ASDA

15.8%

16.3%

7.4

TOTAL SAINSBURY

15.8%

15.9%

4.8

MORRISONS

11.4%

11.3%

2.9

CO-OPERATIVE

7.4%

7.1%

-0.9

WAITROSE

4.0%

4.1%

6.4

MARKS AND SPENCER

3.6%

3.5%

2.8

ALDI

1.7%

2.2%

33.1

ICELAND

2.0%

2.0%

5.4

LIDL

1.8%

2.0%

11.8