Early Christmas for the big four

Competition could be fierce for sales of ‘non-essential items’ this Christmas

CHRISTMAS appears to have come early for the supermarkets, with the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel revealing continued growth for the big four, the discounters and other major multiples.

Figures for the 12 weeks to 8 October put Morrisons top of the big four in growth terms with the supermarket enjoying a 2.8% lift in value sales when compared to the same period last year.

Despite the sales lift, Morrisons’ market share remains largely unmoved, with the big four collectively failing to expand their share of the grocery market in the face of the discounters.

It was another stellar 12 weeks for Lidl and Aldi, with the German discounters collectively adding an additional £390m in sales, accounting for around half of the entire market’s growth for the period.

By category, the influence of Saint Nicholas already appears to be touching on traditionally strong festive performers with Kantar finding £69m of chocolate confectionery boxes sold in the four weeks to 8 October, a near threefold increase on sales in August, while mince pie sales reached £4m and Christmas pudding sales breached the £1m barrier.

Looking to the festive season, the latest figures from Nielsen suggest there will be intense competition for sales in the “non-essential” categories.

Nielsen’s retail data for the four weeks ending 7 October revealed sales growth across confectionery, alcohol and packaged grocery.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insights, suggested savvy consumers could be prepared to shop around this Christmas.

“The competition for extra sales in non-essentials such as treats, indulgences and also fresh foods will intensify,” said Watkins.

“Even though Aldi and Lidl have maintained double digit growth all year, we expect people to shop around for their Christmas groceries and make more visits to retailers offering promotions.”