Tesco's soaring BWS sales drive best performance in two years as alcohol leads grocery channel into growth

A successful summer drinks festival event saw BWS sales grow faster than any other category at Tesco and was the driving force behind the retailer’s best performance in two years.

The retailer’s sales declined just 0.2% in the 12 weeks to September 11, 2016, making it the best performing big four supermarket.

The heat wave that engulfed the UK has caused alcohol sales to spike and in the past month BWS was up 8.5%, leading the overall UK grocery sector into 0.3% growth (Kantar, four weeks to September 11, 2016).

In the 12-week period Sainsbury’s was down 1.4% thanks to the withdrawal of multibuys, but it held number two position as Asda fell 5.4%. Tesco’s market share of grocery stands at 28.1%, with Sainsbury’s on 15.9%, Asda on 15.7% and Morrisons back at 10.4% after a 2.3% sales decline.

The rise of Aldi and Lidl continued, with the pair growing sales 11.6% and 9.7% respectively. The Co-operative was also up 3.1% on the back of strong alcohol sales, while Waitrose grew 3.4%.

Waitrose’s market share hit a 5.3% high after a half-price event across stores but particularly focused on BWS.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, comments: “While overall sales growth has been slow, consumers have been keen to celebrate Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic golden summer, boosting alcohol sales by 8.5% in the past four weeks. Sparkling wines including Prosecco and Champagne led the way with growth of 36.0% as promotional events across a number of retailers successfully tapped into the nation’s celebratory mood.

"Tesco’s summer Drinks Festival helped grow its alcohol sales faster than any other major category, and while the retailer’s sales have not yet returned to growth, a decline of 0.2% year-on-year is its best performance since March 2014. This period its Extra and larger stores delivered a positive contribution to performance, though market share fell back by 0.1 percentage points and Tesco now accounts for 28.1% of the overall grocery market.

“Waitrose sales increased by 3.4% on last year, helping the retailer reach a new record market share of 5.3%. Its Half Price Event boosted performance across much of the store – particularly in household and alcohol. However the increase in sales has come at a cost, with Waitrose’s proportion of promotional sales reaching a higher level than some of the traditionally more promotion-focused big four retailers.

“Co-op continues to outperform the market with sales growth of 3.1%, primarily through its own label lines. The convenience retailer was another to post strong alcohol sales, though its produce lines were its fastest growing category, helping market share increase to 6.6%.”

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