The leading supermarkets had their best year-on-year sales figures this year, even after excluding the positive impact of the late Easter, according to Nielsen retail data released today.
Overall, year-on-year takings at supermarket tills during the four weeks ending 22 April rose +8.6%¹, while the volume of goods sold rose +3.2%¹. However, because the timing of Easter distorted the annual comparison, Nielsen looked at annual growth across the last 8-week period (so last year’s Easter was included) which revealed sales rose +2.8%, the highest growth this year.
Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight says, “This shows the underlying health of the supermarket industry is pretty good, even if we exclude the positive distortion caused by the late Easter. For example, when purely comparing Easter weeks this year and last year, sales were up 3.5%.”
Watkins thinks this grocery data should counterbalance the recent “rather downbeat” stories about consumer spend in general. He says, “Whilst consumers are more likely to be uncertain around spend, we don’t expect a dramatic change in grocery shopping behaviour this year. As long as real incomes don’t come under too much pressure and employment remains high, shoppers will begin to adapt to moderately rising grocery prices, albeit this could be by modifying how much they spend in other retail channels."
Impulse goods, such as crisps and confectionery, saw the biggest year-on-year sales rise over the last eight weeks (up 7.5%) followed by drinks (+6.5%) and fresh foods (+3.4%). Watkins notes the rise in “more indulgent” foods, as shoppers’ trade up for special occasions, mirrors the strong performance of higher-end retailers M&S and Waitrose and shows shoppers remain confident when it comes to grocery spend.
“As inflation gains momentum over the next few months, we expect shopper promiscuity to continue, leading to more visits to different stores as shoppers find ways to manage the overall cost of their grocery bill,” he says. “So customer retention is likely to be the next battleground for retailers, however, this shouldn’t mean a race to the bottom because consumers aren’t solely motivated by the lowest price but also by getting the best value. Be this shopping in more convenient locations or being able to buy product ranges that give the option to “dine in at home” rather than eat out, if it helps save money on the monthly household budget.”
All figures are from Nielsen Homescan Total Till unless otherwise stated
¹Source: Nielsen Scantrack Grocery Multiples
The Nielsen continuous 15,000 GB household panel is geo-demographically balanced and designed to measure household purchasing through a wide range of channels. It includes all food and drink and non-food spend (e.g. household, personal care, clothing, electrical, cards and stationery, toys, music, general merchandise, etc.) It represents the total amount paid (after all coupons and vouchers), found on the till receipt.
The Nielsen scanning service measures total store sales every week by SKU for 20,000 shops across all food and drink trade channels in GB. This uses the actual EPOS data from retailers, thus, Scantrack is the most robust and reliable measure of FMCG sales and is integrated with Homescan for the key indicators of retailer performance. The total market measured is £145bn per annum. ‘Grocery Multiples’ is a defined sub-set of the major supermarkets that also includes all food sales from Marks and Spencer (but excludes Aldi and Lidl). The Grocery Multiples account for over £120bn of all GB food, drink and supermarket general merchandise sales.
Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers watch and buy. Nielsen's Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services for all devices on which content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry's only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen also provides its clients with analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. www.nielsen.com.
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