Grocery sales boosted at Christmas but non-food specialists decline

Grocery market share figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending 26 December 2010 show sharply different fortunes for the grocers and non-grocers over Christmas.

While the grocery sector enjoyed a prosperous Christmas with growth of 5.1%, the non-grocers suffered a 2.3% decline in sales.

According to Kantar, this echoes the gloom of the latest Christmas trading reports from a number of non-food retailers.

Edward Garner, communications director, Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Widespread disruption, caused by the heavy snow before Christmas, meant many consumers only ventured outdoors for essential grocery shopping trips this year. The high streets are usually at their busiest over the festive period but this Christmas shoppers chose to stock up on non-food items such as DVDs, toys and books while doing their grocery shop. Increased spending levels rather than shopper numbers were therefore the driving force behind the strong growth of the grocery sector this period.”

Historically, Sainsbury’s prospers over Christmas, as shoppers trade up to more premium ranges. This year was no different, said Kantar. Crowning a period of consistent growth, begun in 2004, Sainsbury’s was the only retailer of the top four to increase its market share in this period – from 16.3% a year ago to 16.6%.

Tesco matched market growth and its share remained unchanged at 30.5%. Both Asda and Morrisons experienced small dips in share of 0.1%. However, premium own-label ranges across the top four supermarkets grew by 11% year-on-year.

Garner: Christmas shoppers bought non-food lines at grocers

In a similar vein, Waitrose enjoyed robust growth of 9.4%, helped by the buzz around its Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal recipes.

The discounters, Aldi and Lidl, grew ahead of the market with spend levels increasing sharply, despite recent turbulent times.

Kantar said this may have been due to the convenient urban locations of their outlets, against a background of disruptive weather; with some shoppers still seeking value for money during a traditionally expensive month.