Press Room

World Cup fails to boost UK supermarket sales

However, beer, lager and cider sales up 12%

London – 4 July 2014 – The football World Cup failed to provide a respite for the UK’s leading supermarkets, which suffered a second consecutive period of year-on-year declining sales and volumes, according to the latest data from global information and insights company Nielsen.

During the four weeks ending 21 June 2014 – which covered the build-up to, and the first nine days of, the tournament – consumers spent –0.6%* less money at the UK’s leading supermarkets than the same period a year ago, buying -1.8%* less volume.

“Supermarket hopes were heavily pinned on a strong World Cup for England and a good summer to kick-start sales,” says Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins.

“Although the good weather played its part, and sales increased 1.9% in the opening week of the month-long tournament, the national team’s confirmed exit after just eight days was a blow to stimulating sales. Despite the +12%* sales growth in Beers, Lagers and Ciders over the four-week period, it wasn’t enough to help drive purchasing in other categories or to help lift overall supermarket sales.”

Shoppers continue to move to discounters, away from major players

In the 12 weeks to 21 June, Aldi and Lidl continued to outperform the market with sales increases of 32% and 24%, respectively. Along with Waitrose and M&S, these four collectively added 2.2% market share over the last 12 weeks.

Aldi and Lidl’s growth has been helped by increased Press and TV advertising spend over the last six months. Aldi, for instance, spent 14%¹ more in the four weeks ending 21 June 2014 (£3.9m) than in the same period last year. This level isn’t too far behind Sainsbury’s £4.5m (which has more than three times the market share) having increased its spend by 120%.

Among the “big four” Asda again had the strongest sales growth (3.5%), having steadily grown sales ahead of the other three since October 2013. Sainsbury followed next with a 2.0% increase.

Watkins comments, “Although Morrisons had the most disappointing figures of the big four over the 12-week period, they were successful in attracting new shoppers in the last four weeks which suggests an opportunity to secure repeat visits and bigger basket spends over the next few months.”

What’s coming next?

“It’s debatable whether the good summer weather and the World Cup festivities – albeit without England – will be strong enough to compensate for the chipping away at overall spend coming from the underlying shift in consumers shopping more at Aldi and Lidl,” concludes Watkins.

“This suggests that the high level of promotions at 35% of sales that we’ve seen over the last few weeks at supermarkets will continue, along with targeted vouchering and, maybe, more selective price cutting until the end of the year.”  


All figures are from Nielsen Homescan Total Till unless otherwise stated
*Source: Nielsen Scantrack Grocery Multiples
¹Source: Nielsen Ad Dynamix

About Nielsen Homescan Total Till

The Nielsen continuous 14,500 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.

About Nielsen Scantrack

The Nielsen scanning service that measures total store sales every week by SKU for 15,000 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 and category performance. The total market measured is £140bn 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 £117bn of all GB food, drink and supermarket general merchandise sales.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands.