GB grocery market: delayed spending in build-up to Christmas

Date : 10 December 2019

In the 12 weeks to 1st December growth halved from the previous 12 weeks to November 3rd, to 0.5%. Consumers on average made one fewer visit to the shops over the past three months than this time last year.

Challenging environment persists

Shoppers have been delaying spending in the lead up to the festive season, with a wet November and the uncertainty that comes with the looming election dampening spend. Retailers invested less in Black Friday this year, which on top of shopper caution in the current environment is likely to have acted as a break on sales. This year only 5% of Black Friday shoppers bought something from a grocer according to Kantar.

Ocado expanding in the UK and abroad

Ocado remains the fastest growing retailer, with sales +13.7%. This marks its sixth month as the fastest growing retailer in the UK, as it broadens its reach and benefits from customers ordering more frequently.  It is most popular in London, where its market share at 2.6%, is nearly double its national share of 1.4%.

On the back of its good performance Ocado continues to develop its infrastructure. It plans to open its sixth fulfilment centre in Bristol at the end of 2020, or into early 2021. The facility will have the capacity for 30,000 orders per week.

The retailer has also launched a £500m bond for international expansion. According to Ocado, the proceeds of the issue of the bonds will be used to fund new robotic warehouses and international expansion.

This follows on from Ocado announcing it is partnering with Aeon, enabling it to develop its online grocery business in Japan. This will involve building automated warehouses in the country.

Discounters continue to grow ahead of the market

The discounters continued to shake off the challenging environment, growing well above the market. Lidl achieved its highest ever market share, at 6.1%, and Aldi maintained its 8% share. Sales growth remained strong with Lidl 9.3% and Aldi 6.2%, lifted further by store openings.

Both discounters are focused on growing their premium range over the festive period. Aldi also launched a toy shop to help it capture the larger household basket and grow average transaction value.

For subscribers looking for more information on Lidl, check out our Lidl's store of the future report.

Iceland achieves best performance in a year

Other good performances came from Iceland, achieving its best performance since November 2018, with growth of 3.2%.

Iceland is currently looking to find ways to balance its sustainability ambitions against its strong reputation for low prices. We look at why it cancelled a trial for loose fruit and vegetables, alongside how it is encouraging suppliers to reduce plastic usage in our sustainability update.

Co-op grow slows but remains strong

At Co-op sales grew 3.6%. This was a slowdown compared to the previous 12 weeks, where growth was 4.4%.

Read about how Co-op is working to reduce packaging from its food-to-go ranges in our food-to-go trends: what we learned at IGD Live.

For subscribers looking for more information on the convenience channel see our latest Global trends in convenience retail 2019: convenience shopping with a conscience report.

The Big Four

The Big Four continue to struggle in the current environment, with all experiencing slowing sales compared to the previous 12 weeks.

Click below to read the latest news from the retailers;

Building up to the festive season

Check out the this years Christmas ads from all the major retailers.

For subscribers;

Detailed results

Retailer 12 weeks to 2nd December 2018 12 weeks to 1st December 2019 Sales growth (Y-O-Y%)
Tesco 27.6% 27.3% -0.8%
Sainsbury's 16.0% 15.7% -1.1%
Asda 15.0% 14.6% -1.9%
Morrisons 10.5% 10.1% -2.9%
Aldi 7.6% 8.0% 6.2%
Co-op 6.1% 6.3% 3.6%
Lidl 5.6% 6.1% 9.3%
Waitrose 4.9% 4.8% -0.8%
Iceland 2.2% 2.2% 3.2%
Ocado 1.2% 1.4% 13.7%
Other Multiples 1.8% 1.7% -2.7%
Symbols & Independents 1.6% 1.7% 6.8%

Source: Kantar

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