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Grocery spend in Europe is still close to the underlying trend of the last 12 months
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Grocery spend in Europe is still close to the underlying trend of the last 12 months

The amount Europeans paid for everyday groceries (on the widest possible basket of product categories that are continuously tracked by Nielsen) increased by +3.7%, still very positive but slightly slowed in comparison with the+4.4% in Q4.

After a strong end to 2017, FMCG performance in Q1 weakened slightly with volume growth receding to +0.9% (down from +1.7% in Q4). However this is still close to the underlying trend of the last 12 months.

“European Union (EU28) GDP growth slowed at the start of 2018 after a stronger than expected 2017” said Olivier Lamare, Retail Vertical Leader, Developed Markets. “FMCG sales have also been impacted – despite the positive effect of an early Easter in 2018 (calendar effect). European households still navigate the retail environment with a saver’s mindset, seeking the best deal when shopping – in terms of price and promotions, but also when choosing a brand or a store. At the same time, we feel a strong appeal for local, premium, certified items in a wide range of markets, leading to an upgrade move across categories.”

Compared to Q1 2017, this 3.7% increase in nominal value across the 28 European countries measured by Nielsen – was due to shoppers buying +0.9% more items and paying +2.8% more per item than they did in the same quarter last year.

How different countries compare

Turkey continues to show the highest year-on-year growth in takings at the tills (+15.6%), followed by Hungary (+8.3%) and Poland (+4.8%). On the other hand Denmark (0.6%) and Finland (+0.8%) had the smallest growth with Switzerland that even scored -0.6%. Belgium ranked 16th of the 21 countries.

Germany’s growth rate (+4.4%) was the highest among the big five western European markets, followed by Spain and Italy (both +3.1%), whilst France had the lowest growth among this group (+1%).

In comparison to the European average, in Belgium, the prices paid rose 2.1% while volumes dropped -0.7%, meaning total grocery – or what the industry calls fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) – spend rose +1.4%.

“In the first quarter of 2018, Belgian FMCG growth was largely driven by Large Supermarkets (5.3%), while Small Supermarkets (-9.1%) saw a considerable contraction. Superettes, which focus on proximity and convenience, grew +8.5%, while Discounters, with a focus on Fresh, grew +2.9%, “said Pedro Lima, Group Managing Director for the Nielsen Benelux & Alpine Regions.