The latest Kantar data has revealed that year-on-year grocery sales in Britain’s supermarkets were flat in the 12 weeks to 11 August as the sector faced tough comparatives from 2018’s scorching heatwave.
Fraser McKevitt, Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight, said July’s hottest day on record “wasn’t enough to shift the market into growth”, however he added that the grocers would have been “encouraged” by segments of better weather in the past four weeks which had boosted sales of summer stables such as hayfever remedies, suncare and burgers by 17%, 8% and 5% respectively.
The winner among the ‘big four’ was J Sainsbury PLC (LON:SBRY), which despite losing 0.6% market share was the best performer in the cohort for the first time since November 2017.
The FTSE 100 grocer also bucked a market-wide trend to post a 1.5% rise in sales of its own-brand goods, driven by higher levels of promotion and a price lockdown strategy.
The data may come as a relief to the grocer, which over the last year has seen its share price suffer following the collapse of an attempted merger with Asda and recent rumours that it was seeking to replace its embattled chief executive Mike Coupe, seen by some as the architect of the proposed tie-up.
The firm’s shares were 2% higher at 192p in mid-morning on Tuesday.
Sainsbury’s main rivals fared less well, with Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO), Walmart Inc’s (NYSE:WMT) Asda and Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW) reporting declines in market share of 1.6%, 1.5% and 2.7% respectively.
Tesco managed to retain its spot as the UK’s biggest supermarket with 27% market share, while Sainsbury’s overtook Asda for second place at 15.4%.
Asda, meanwhile, dropped to third at 14.9%, followed by Morrisons in fourth place with 10.1%.
McKevitt said that while they had lost market share, Tesco had continued to find success with its cheapest own-label lines and Asda had posted “notably strong” growth of 11% in its online arm.
Shares in Tesco were down 0.8% at 218p while Morrisons dipped 0.4% to 181.4p.
Discounters continue advance
Meanwhile, the German discounters Aldi and Lidl continued their seemingly unstoppable growth, seeing their market share jump by 6.2% and 7.7% respectively.
A raft of new store openings had helped Lidl attract new shoppers over the 12 weeks, McKevitt said, lifting its total market share to 5.5%.
Aldi, meanwhile, had seen its sales of bakery products and biscuits boost its market share to 8.1%.
“Nearly half of all households shopped in an Aldi during the past 12 weeks”, McKevitt said, which indicated the extent to which the discounter had “established itself in [the] retail landscape".
Kantar’s data also revealed that online delivery firm Ocado Group PLC (LON:OCDO) continued to hold its position as the UK’s fastest-growing grocer, with its market share surging 12.6% to 1.4%.
The share price was similarly motoring, up 2.1% at 1,229p.
The growth in sales came despite a devastating fire in February which destroyed one of the firm’s warehouses in Andover, Hampshire, and led to a 46.3% drop in first-half earnings.
While its total market share pales in comparison to the big four, Ocado commands 18% of all online supermarket sales in Britain.