Sales volumes at supermarkets fall for first time this year, Nielsen reports

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The volume of items purchased from the UK’s leading supermarkets fell year-on-year for the first time since early December 2014, according to the latest data from global information and insights company Nielsen.

Sales volumes fell -0.3% during the four weeks ending 15 August 2015, versus the same period a year ago – driven by declines in soft drinks, frozen foods and general merchandise. The last year-on-year decrease was the four weeks ending 6 December 2014 (-0.4%) – since then there’ve been eight consecutive reported rises.

The value of sales at the tills fell -1.1% – the fourth decline in the last five periods.

“The disappointing growth figures reflect the continuing unpredictable summer weather as well as the underlying deflation in retail prices,” said Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins. “The week ending 25 July suffered from particularly poor weather with the value of sales down -3.6% against the same period last year, which was notably warmer and included the start of the Commonwealth Games.”

Sainsbury’s best of the big four – but still down
During the 12 weeks ending 15 August, all four of the top four supermarkets lost market share – ending Morrisons’ run of three consecutive periods of sales growth. Sainsbury’s had the smallest decline (-0.5%) in year-on-year sales. Asda had the largest (-3.4%) – its sixth consecutive decline.

Discounters Aldi (22.6%) and Lidl (14.8%) continued to have the largest rise in year-on-year sales, and now together account for 10.4% of all UK supermarket sales.

Supermarket market share and growth

Lidl biggest spender on TV and Press advertising for sixth consecutive month
For the sixth consecutive month, Lidl spent the most on TV and press advertising – £3.7m in the four weeks ending 15 August 2015 (261% more than the same period last year). The impact has been a 9.5% year-on-year increase in the number of shoppers – over 850,000 extra people.

Tesco (£3.5m) and Aldi (£3.0m) were the next biggest spenders, while Iceland increased spend the most – up 616% year-on-year to £1.1m.

“It’s interesting to see there’s also been a movement away from price-based messaging in TV and press ads,” said Watkins. “In a renewed attempt to gain market share, retailers are starting to differentiate themselves by highlighting their range and service credentials – not just lower prices and value for money, which are fairly homogenous offerings in times of price deflation.”