UK supermarkets experience £4billion surge in seven days over Christmas

Supermarkets finally experienced significant sales growths in the final seven days of pre-Christmas trading as shoppers, who’d held back earlier in December, freed up their spending, according to the latest retailer performance figures released this afternoon by analysts Nielsen.


Headline value growth at the UK’s grocery multiples for the four weeks to 24 December was a surprisingly strong at +5.5 percent. But while this was down a little on the corresponding four-week period in 2010, it was a considerable improvement on the +2.2 percent for the preceding four weeks in November 2011.


Nielsen senior manager for retailer services Mike Watkins explains:  “The initial delay in spending in early December, followed by a £4billion surge in sales in the final week before Christmas, made this one of the biggest pre-Christmas weeks for UK food retailers.  Very cold weather in the week before Christmas 2010 amplified growths in 2011.

“All categories benefited with sales of Soft Drinks (+11%), Crisps/Snacks (+11%) and Deli/Cheese/Meats (+8%) showing the strongest growth.  General Merchandise (+5%) also bounced back with supermarkets gaining share from the non-food channel, as shoppers maximised their more-limited discretionary spend by taking advantage of extended non-food ranges and promotions at the Big-4 supermarkets.”


Asda had a fine December with sales up 10.7 percent on last year – fuelled by store conversions and a growth in shopper penetration across all stores – which kept its performance ahead of Waitrose (sales up +8.8%),  Sainsbury (+6.7%)  and Morrisons (+5.9% ).


But the overall winner this Christmas was Aldi, with stellar growths of more than 40 percent in December.  A flood of new shoppers were persuaded through the discounter’s doors by award-winning advertising, including the ‘most-liked TV ad of 2011’, which had ad caption ‘I buy this tea for my husband’.


Watkins again: “Overall, this was a disloyal Christmas, with retailers experiencing more shopper visits and more ‘new’ shoppers than last year, as consumers shopped around for choice and range as well as the best deals and deepest promotions.  It was a strong end to the year with underlying unit (volume) sales growths back into positive territory (+0.9%) for the first time since the end of May.”

12 weeks % share to

25 Dec 2010

12 weeks % share to

24 Dec 2011

Value % change vs 12 Weeks Year Ago
TESCO 29.3 28.9 3.2
ASDA 16.7 17.1 7.2
SAINSBURY 16.1 16.1 5.0
MORRISONS 11.4 11.4 4.6
CO-OPERATIVE 7.0 6.6 -0.7
WAITROSE 4.0 4.1 7.3
ICELAND 1.9 2.0 7.0
LIDL 1.8 1.9 15.6
ALDI 1.6 2.1 44.2




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