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UK Insights

UK supermarket sales growth accelerates

Fraser McKevitt

Head of Retail and Consumer Insight

Shoppers 15.10.2019 / 08:00


1.3% growth for the grocery market, as people prepare for Halloween more than Brexit deadline day...

The latest grocery market share figures from Kantar show year-on-year supermarket sales grew by 1.3% during the past 12 weeks, as Sainsbury’s returns to growth... and Brexit deadline day approaches.

The grocery market seems to have finally edged out from under the shadow of 2018 and tough comparisons with the strong summer sales of last year. Sainsbury’s performance reflects this – increasing sales at its fastest rate since October 2018 to make it the only big four retailer to achieve growth. The grocer recently announced plans to phase out its value ‘Basics’ line which made it into 12% of shopping baskets during the past 12 weeks, so it will be interesting to see how replacement brands like ‘Stamford Street’and ‘J James and family’ fare as they become more widely available.

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As growth accelerates in the overall market, Brexit uncertainty continues. But well-documented concerns about the availability of popular products in the event of a no-deal Brexit have not yet translated into a consistent increase in purchasing. Sales of dry pasta and healthcare products over the past four weeks were 9% and 7% higher than the same time last year, but those of canned products fell by 2% and frozen food by 1%. While a quarter of British consumers say they are considering stockpiling*, it seems they are waiting to see how the next few weeks play out and we expect if they take any action it will be closer to the deadline, if a chaotic trading situation looks increasingly likely.

One event people are already planning for on 31 October is Halloween, spending a collective £1.5 million on pumpkins in the past 12 weeks. Those sales are 29% higher than at this point before Halloween last year and retailers should be taking note and aiming to capitalise on the celebration in the coming weeks.

The proportion of sales on promotion increased for the first time in nearly 4.5 years this period to 32.3%, driven by Tesco’s ‘100 years of value’ campaign and Sainsbury’s ‘Price Lockdown’. The performances of Tesco, Asda and Morrisons all improved compared with last month, but sales are still down year on year. Tesco sales declined by 0.2% as its market share was reduced to 27.0%. The announcement that Dave Lewis will depart as Tesco chief executive next year has inspired inevitable reflection on his tenure, and it’s worth noting that the retailer’s sales were in freefall when he joined in September 2014 – dropping 4.5% year on year. Since then Tesco’s absolute and relative performance has improved and profitability has returned, but its market share is down from 28.8% at the start of his time there.

Sales at Asda fell by 0.9% during the past 12 weeks, dropping 0.3 percentage points of market share to 15.0%, while Morrisons remains behind the rest of the pack, declining by 1.8% with a market share of 9.9%.

Lidl and Aldi continue to gain share. The discounters now account for a combined 14% of UK grocery sales which is 0.8% percentage points higher than last year, an increase that’s worth nearly one billion pounds annually. While traditionally known for its own label ranges, Lidl’s 8.2% growth was boosted by sales of branded goods which grew twice as quickly. 

Meanwhile, Aldi grew by 7.3% during the past 12 weeks as it attracted more new customers than any other retailer with 689,000 additional shoppers. Its small but growing ‘Everyday Essentials’also added an extra £18 million in sales.

Co-op grew at its fastest rate since April at 3.9% as the convenience retailer’s £5 ‘Super saver deal’ drove up sales of fresh pizza by 20% and ice cream by 17%. 

Online specialist Ocado continued its run as Britain’s fastest-growing supermarket – a position it’s held since May 2019 – as its growth sped up slightly to 13.3%.

Iceland sales rose by 0.5%, supported by widely available coupons, while Waitrose declined by 1.1% and its market share slipped 0.1 percentage points to 5.1%.

Source : Kantar

Editor's Notes

*Kantar Brexit Barometer.  A total of 1,144 interviews were conducted online among adults living in Great Britain between 5 and 9 of September 2019. 


Retailer growth figures reported by Kantar relateto overall take home sales, and so include the impact of store openings or closures. Like-for-like sales change is not measured or reported. Calculating like-for-like sales requires a detailed knowledge of store openings and extensions which is information held accurately only by individual retailers.

Kantar will only support data that is published in the context we have presented it and our own interpretation of these findings. Our commentary is based upon our own data and information in the public domain. We cannot be held responsible for any other interpretation of these findings.


Notes for Editors: Please note that four week ending or six week ending retailer share data should not be used in media reporting. The 12 week ending data stated in this release covers a longer time period which means it is a superior indicator of retailer performances and trends.

These findings are based on Worldpanel FMCG data for the 12 weeks to 6 October 2019.  Kantar monitors the take home grocery purchasing habits of 30,000 demographically representative households across Great Britain.  Kantar grocery market share data includes all expenditure through store tills, excluding petrol and in-store concessions.  All data discussed in the above announcement is based on the value of items being bought by these consumers.

For all publicly-quoted data, users of our research (including media) must ensure that data is sourced to ‘Kantar’.

An update on inflation: Grocery inflation now stands at 0.8%† for the 12-week period ending 6 October 2019. Prices have been rising since the 12 weeks to 1 January 2017, following a period of grocery price deflation which ran for 30 consecutive periods from September 2014 to December 2016. Prices are rising fastest in markets such as canned fish, crisps and frozen fish, while falling in canned cola, instant coffee and chilled fruit juices.

† This figure is based on over 75,000 identical products compared year-on-year in the proportions purchased by shoppers and therefore represents the most authoritative figure currently available. It is a ‘pure’ inflation measure in that shopping behaviour is held constant between the two comparison periods – shoppers are likely to achieve a lower personal inflation rate if they trade down or seek out more offers.

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