Supermarket sales fall -1.6%, Nielsen data shows

Consumer spend at the UK’s leading supermarkets during the four weeks ending 13 September 2014 was down -1.6% versus the same period a year ago – according to the latest data from global information and insights company Nielsen. Sales volume dropped -1.9%.

“Despite the good summer weather and plenty of promotional spend activity, the major supermarkets face the harsh reality that people are spending less per visit,” said Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, Mike Watkins. “Many shoppers are still unable or reluctant to spend, which is reflected in the continued shift to shopping at the discounters – where spend per visit has actually increased 9% over the last year.”

The five largest supermarkets all saw a year-on-year decline in sales over the last 12 weeks. Waitrose and M&S – together with Aldi and Lidl – continued to outperform the market, overall.

M&S and Waitrose with highest increase in TV and press ad spend
During the four weeks ending 13 September 2014, M&S had the biggest increase (184% to £2.2m) in TV and press advertising spend, compared to the same period the year before, followed by Waitrose (173% to £0.4m). Asda was the highest spender during the period at £5.0m.

Overall, the leading supermarkets spent £23.3m in the period, 1.8% more than a year ago.

“Promotions are key for driving consumer spend when demand is weak, but advertising which differentiates brands in consumers’ eyes is also important in having an impact,” said Watkins.

“For instance, Lidl is currently spending almost £3m a month on TV and Press ads with the new ‘Lidl Surprises’ campaign, a similar level of investment Aldi is still making with its ‘Switch and Save’ messaging. Despite consumer caution this year, we do anticipate many shoppers will be willing to trade up in December to treat themselves, so the battle lines have already been drawn for the all-important Christmas TV campaigns.”

Supermarket sales and share trend