Don't bring us figgy pudding … yet, say Christmas shoppers


Shoppers are delaying their festive preparations, with sales of seasonal fare such as Christmas puddings and tins of biscuits lagging behind 2018 levels.

The grocery industry analysts Kantar said supermarket sales growth had slowed to 0.5% over the past 12 weeks after the Black Friday discount bonanza proved to be a damp squib for supermarkets.

There was also evidence that people were shopping less frequently, skipping one visit to the supermarket over the three months to 1 December – potentially put off by the wet weather and political uncertainty. Sales of puddings and biscuits are down 16% and 12%, respectively, in the past four weeks, compared with 2018.

Fraser McKevitt, Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight, said: “We’re yet to see consumers ramp up their spending in the run-up to Christmas, and Black Friday only brought a limited boost for the grocers.”

There were some signs of Christmas cheer, Kantar said. Spending on advent calendars rose slightly over the past four weeks at £28m, and sales of party food up 7%.

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Lidl was the star performer among supermarkets, chalking sales growth of 9.3% and propelling it to a record high market share of 6.1%. An estimated 11.9 million people visited its stores during the period, which was 652,000 more than this time last year. Aldi reported growth of 6.2%, taking its share to 8%.

Life was much harder for the big four supermarkets: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons lost market share during the period. McKevitt predicted their fortunes would improve before Christmas.

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“Based on previous years, we expect them to increase their proportion of sales in the coming weeks as shoppers turn to familiar favourites and the traditional retailers in December,” he said.

The market leader, Tesco, fared the least worst of the largest grocers, with sales falling by 0.8%, reducing its hold on the market to 27.3%. Sales were down 1.1% at Sainsbury’s and 1.9% at Asda, resulting in market shares of 15.7% and 14.6%, respectively. Sales declined 2.9% at Morrisons, reducing its share of grocery sales to 10.1%.

While less important for supermarkets, Black Friday provided a shot in the arm for John Lewis, which said total sales at its department stores were up 10.2% on 2018 during its 11-day promotion blitz. Growth was driven by fashion and technology. Sales of communications technology such as smartphones rose nearly 35% led by tablets.



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