Sales volumes at supermarkets rise for third straight month, Nielsen reports

The volume of items purchased from the UK’s leading supermarkets increased year-on-year for the third consecutive month, according to the latest data from global information and insights company Nielsen. This follows 17 consecutive monthly year-on-year declines (barring one seasonal anomaly).

Sales volume increased +1.0% during the four weeks ending 28 February 2015 versus the same period a year ago. Sales value during the four-week period was down -0.7% versus the same period a year ago. Food deflation stands at -0.4%.

Trend in supermarket sales volume


“Lower commodity prices, more retailer price cuts and ongoing promotions continue to make grocery shopping cheaper than it was last year,” said Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight. “This is now leading to sustained volume growth, suggesting the consistent decline in supermarket sales that characterised last year may finally be over.

“At a category level, there’s volume growth in Confectionery, Drinks, Snacks and Bakery. In addition, deflation is currently having the biggest impact on Packaged Grocery and Fresh and Chilled foods, so we expect volume growth to follow in these categories too.

“This good news is likely to be amplified with spring on the horizon, as Easter is often a turning point in sales momentum. It’s realistic to expect we’ll see a sustained period of shoppers buying higher volumes.”

Morrisons’ momentum temporarily stalls – but still big four’s best performer

During the 12 weeks ending 28 February, Morrisons was the only one of the big four supermarkets not to see a decline in year-on-year sales. Although sales were flat (0% growth), spend per visit at Morrisons continues to increase. 

Among the big four, Asda was the worst performer (sales declined -2.2%) followed by Sainsbury (-1.4%), however, Sainsbury’s trading performance improved in the last four weeks. Tesco’s year-on-year sales declined -1.1% over the last 12 weeks, despite attracting more shoppers.

Aldi’s sales grew 16.1% year-on-year, and Lidl’s, 13.3%. However, their market share remained at 10.7% for the second consecutive 12-week period.

Share of supermarket sector by retailer

Sainsbury’s biggest spender on TV and press advertising for second consecutive month

In the four weeks ending 28 February 2015, Sainsbury’s again spent the most on TV and press advertising (£4.7m) – 82% more than the same period last year – just ahead of Asda (£4.6m).

Iceland increased spend the most – up 322% to £1.7m – followed by Lidl (up 124% to £3.2m).