However, extra day’s trading in week up until Christmas means year should end on a high note
After a brief recovery, UK supermarket sales fell for the first time in five months due to a combination of Black Friday impacting non-food purchases, and falling prices as the Christmas offers kicked in.
Nielsen retail performance data released today, for the four-week period ending 3rd December, shows money taken at the till (-0.4%¹) and the volume of goods sold (-0.3%¹) both dropped versus the same period a year ago – the first time this has happened since mid-July.
The value of General Merchandise sales dropped 4.3% was partly a result of shoppers being distracted by heavily-advertised Black Friday deals by non-food retailers, particularly online. This meant supermarket trips were more focused on food and drink.
Supermarkets also saw less takings as baskets were cheaper due to stores starting their Christmas promotions – 29% of sales were on promotional items – and further regular price cuts.
Even the discounters’ weren’t immune – Aldi’s annual growth dropped into single figures (8.5%) for the first time in four years, whilst Lidl’s 2.7% was six times smaller than its growth rate this time last year.
After a strong start to November, shoppers’ seemed to have held back on food spend in the last few weeks, despite some the very attractive Christmas offers and price reductions. However, we expect momentum to pick up again and the week ending Christmas Eve will be a massive opportunity for the big four supermarkets to regain market share.
Nielsen estimates shoppers will spend around £4 billion at supermarkets in that week alone, with Thursday 22nd expected to be the biggest day of the year. It’s not been a great year for the leading supermarkets but an extra day’s shopping available, with Christmas Day falling on a Sunday, means this year should end on a bit of a high note with more visits that week, and sales up versus last year despite the ongoing price deflation.
All figures are from Nielsen Homescan Total Till unless otherwise stated
¹Source: Nielsen Scantrack Grocery Multiples