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

CPG, FMCG & Retail | 18-07-2018

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.


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