Christmas brings little relief to Big Four multiples

Big consumer spending in the Christmas week brought some good news for the UK’s supermarkets, according to consumer information analysts Nielsen, with sales up 8% to £3.3bn.

But the festive spending did little to alter the overall trends in the sector, with the discount retailers Aldi and Lidl continuing to post very strong growth for the quarter while the major multiples struggle.

Aldi’s sales were up 20.6% year-on-year over the last twelve weeks of the year, while Lidl’s grew 17.9%.

Sainsbury’s continues to be the best performing of the Big Four retailers, with very modest growth of 0.2% over the quarter.

Asda, Morrisons and Tesco, all fell back – by 4.2%, 2.7% and 2.0% respectively.

Beers, wines and spirits was one of the strongest categories in the four weeks ending January 2, up +3.2% year on year.

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen UK, said: “The average price per item fell more at Aldi and Lidl than it did across the industry as a whole. So, whilst people are buying more items from the discounters,they're actually saving money.

“Over Christmas, shoppers took advantage of some exceptional seasonal offers and price cuts. Meanwhile, most retailers were able to attract new shoppers - in particular, Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury and Tesco.

“The percentage of sales purchased on promotion fell to 31% - the lowest for over five years.

“Furthermore, with deflation now likely to have reached its low point, and the intensity of promotions continuing to fall, the industry has a good chance of returning to positive growth in the first part of 2016.”

Year-on-year sales were flat for the four weeks ending January 2, while volumes shrank 0.2%.

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