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Waitrose updates on Christmas performance, begins a trial of in-store nutritionists, launches new health labelling, and becomes the first UK grocer to introduce a minimum age for highly caffeinated energy drinks....

Good Christmas results reflect strong brands, service, and focus on value

Waitrose sales grew 1.4%, with like-for-likes up 1.5% in the six weeks to 30 December 2017. Online performance was a highlight; in the period Waitrose delivered its biggest week of online sales in its history. Whilst in-store, Waitrose created a "festive buzz" by doubling the number of tastings, and driving footfall with one-day only offers.

Compare Waitrose's performance to its competitors in IGD's Christmas results tracker

New ‘Good Health’ labelling

Waitrose launched its new ‘Good health’ label across a range of its own-brand products. All products in the range adhere to strict government guidelines and are considered healthy options by a team of nutritionists.

The initiative is designed to help shoppers identify nutritious food and drink, ideal for confused customers that have set health related new year goals. The retailer plans to expand the scheme, extending its range of healthy innovative products later this month.

Trialling an in-store personal nutritionist service

Waitrose is trialling a personal nutritionist service in its Canary Wharf and Kingston-Upon-Thames stores, starting later this month.

The service provides tailored health guidance from a nutritionist expert, conducted through individual consultations. Shoppers receive an in-shop tour with nutritionists pointing out products suited to their individual health needs, a personalised diet plan and healthy recipes for a cost of £95. The package includes a follow up evaluation session giving shoppers the chance to analyse success and receive renewed advice.

Minimum age on caffeinated drinks

Waitrose is the first UK supermarket to announce plans to introduce an age limit on high caffeine energy drinks. Shoppers will be asked to prove they over the age of 16 when buying drinks containing over 150mg of caffeine per litre.

The move aligns with existing labelling guidelines which state that high caffeine products should carry a warning label, suggesting them unsuitable for children.

With vegan dishes tipped as a top food trend for 2018 and more people than ever reported to have signed up to “Veganuary”, what new dishes are food-to-go retailers offering consumers to take advantage of this growing market?

  • Waitrose’s new Good Health range includes two new vegan sandwiches - Vegan Mean Greens Sandwich (crushed peas and edamame with cucumber, spinach and mint on dark rye bread) and the Sweet Potato and Chipotle Sandwich (roasted sweet potato and smoked paprika chipotle chutney with roasted courgette, peppers and aubergine, butter beans and rocket on sundried tomato bread).
  • Tesco’s new plant-based Wicked Kitchen range includes wraps, salads and sandwiches with innovative vegan fillings such as carrot pastrami, spicy frijoles and pumpkin falafel.

  • Pret has added three new vegan dishes to its January menu: the Cauli & Sweet Potato Dhal Hot Pot (with a separate pot of spinach, a slice of lemon and toasted seeds - the 'Topper'- which are designed to be stirred into the pot to enhance the flavour at the last minute); the Chef’s Special Falafel, Avo & Chipotle Flat Bread; and for snacking, the Apple and Almond Butter Bowl.  All of these lines are available until 5th March.
  • Pod has extended its vegan menu with “light and leafy” salads: the Hippie (with falafel & beetroot hummus) and the Yogi (with tofu & tumeric).
  • EAT’s new vegan specialty is a Roasted Butternut Squash, Seedy Stuffing & Slaw Sandwich comprising of malted bread, filled with cranberry sauce, freekeh, cranberry, sage and onion stuffing, chargrilled butternut squash, fresh rocket and vegan mayonnaise.
  • As well as adding dairy-free coconut milk to the soya milk it already offers, Costa has launched a limited edition hot drink for Veganuary – a coconut and vanilla latte, priced at £2.95.  Coconut Flat Whites and Coconut Mochas are also now available.
  • “Naturally Fast Food” chain, Leon, has added a Squash, Sage & Kale Salad; a Roasted Beet and Squash Wrap and a Rainbow Mezze dish to its menu – all of which are vegan.

Food-to-go consumers have been telling us for some time about how they want more choice of healthier ranges when buying food-to-go. 35% tell us they want a larger choice of vegetarian lines, and 22% tell us they want more vegan options*. Clearly, in January, the month when embracing healthier lifestyles is most front of mind, we are seeing a concerted and focused response around this, with some great innovation coming through. But while January is a focal point, we see no reason to expect this to just be for “Veganuary”. With health & wellness innovation one of our key trends for food-to-go for 2018, we’re expecting much more to follow in the months ahead.

*Source: IGD ShopperVista

New market data from Kantar Worldpanel, for the 12 weeks to December 31st, suggests that the grocery sector enjoyed significant sales growth over the festive period. Sales rose by 3.8%, considerably faster than the 3.1% in the previous 12 week period.


Inflation drives £1bn sales increase

Sales for the festive period were £1bn higher than 2016 as higher inflation obliged customers to spend more. LFL inflation was 3.7%, up from 3.6% last month, implying only a marginal contribution from higher volumes as households grappled with falling real wages. Retailers' focus on lowering promotional participation meant that only 36% of spend was on promotions, the lowest rate since Christmas 2009, so to make their budgets stretch further, more shoppers opted for premium private labels. In total £469m was spend on premium own brands in December with chilled lines, meat and bakery featuring prominently.


Discounters lead the field

As expected, Aldi and Lidl grew sales far faster than any of the other main retailers. Both achieved a 16.8% sales increase, a step up on last month's result. The Aldi number tallies with the 15% sales increase the retailer has reported for December which is all the more impressive for being on top of a 15% increase a year ago. The expansion of Aldi's Specially Selected range was key to its festive success with sales up 30% on last year. 39% of shopping trips at Aldi now involve the purchase of at least one item from the premium range.


Tesco leads the Big Four

Sales growth of 3.1% was a major advance on last month's 2.5% as shoppers' responded to the stronger food focus of its Everyone's welcome Christmas campaign. The growth was the fastest since June, helped by a 6.4% increase in sales of standard own label products. The timing of Christmas also worked to Tesco's advantage as its Express stores were available to shoppers on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when larger stores were shut. Tesco will report its Christmas and Q3 results on Thursday. Booking has also now opened for the 2018 Tesco Trade Briefing - for details click here.


Festive cheer for Asda

After many months of underperformance, Asda emerges as the second fastest growing retailer among the Big Four, with sales rising by 2.2%, ahead of Morrisons 2.1% and Sainsbury's 2.0%. A growing focus on food quality, restoring shoppers' trust in its pricing credentials and improved store keeping standards are likely to have powered performance.  For more on Morrisons at Christmas, see analysis of its results here. Sainsbury's will reveal its results tomorrow.



12 weeks to 01 Jan 2017 (% share)

12 weeks to 31 Dec 2017 (% share)

Sales growth (Y-o-Y %)

Tesco 28.2 28.0 3.1
Sainsbury's 16.7 16.4 2.0
Asda 15.5 15.3 2.2
Morrisons 10.9 10.7 2.1
Aldi 6.0 6.8 16.8
Co-op 6.0 5.8 -0.2
Waitrose 5.3 5.2 2.3
Lidl 4.4 5.0 16.8
Iceland 2.3 2.2 2.9
Ocado 1.2 1.3 8.4
Other multiples 1.6 1.6 1.8
Total symbols & independents 1.8 1.7 -4.1

Source: Kantar Worldpanel



Stay up to date with the latest retailer results with our Christmas 2017 Results Tracker, updated daily


IGD Asda Trade Briefing 2018

8 February, Harrogate | Whether you're already doing business with Asda or have them in your sights, this dedicated briefing will help you understand the latest Asda strategy and vision.  Confirmed speakers include new CEO Roger Burnley and Chief Merchandising Officer Jesús Lorente.

Find out more »




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