Press Room

Sales volumes at supermarkets fall for first time this year

Follows eight consecutive periods of year-on-year rises

London, 28 August 2015. The volume of items purchased from the UK’s leading supermarkets fell year-on-year for the first time since early December 2014, according to the latest data from global information and insights company Nielsen.

Sales volumes fell -0.3%¹ during the four weeks ending 15 August 2015, versus the same period a year ago – driven by declines in soft drinks, frozen foods and general merchandise. The last year-on-year decrease was the four weeks ending 6 December 2014 (-0.4%) – since then there’ve been eight consecutive reported rises.

The value of sales at the tills fell -1.1%¹ – the fourth decline in the last five periods.

“The disappointing growth figures reflect the continuing unpredictable summer weather as well as the underlying deflation in retail prices,” says Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins. “The week ending 25 July suffered from particularly poor weather with the value of sales down -3.6% against the same period last year, which was notably warmer and the start of the Commonwealth Games.”

Sainsbury’s best of the Big Four – but still down

During the 12 weeks ending 15 August, all of the top four supermarkets lost market share – ending Morrisons’ run of three consecutive periods of sales growth. Sainsbury’s had the smallest decline (-0.5%) in year-on-year sales. Asda had the largest (-3.4%) – its sixth consecutive decline.

Discounters Aldi (22.6%) and Lidl (14.8%) continued to have the largest rise in year-on-year sales, and now between them account for 10.4% of all UK supermarket sales.

Lidl biggest spender on TV and Press advertising for sixth consecutive month

For the sixth consecutive month, Lidl spent the most on TV and press advertising – £3.7 million² in the four weeks ending 15 August 2015 (261% more than the same period last year). The impact has been a 9.5% year-on-year increase in the number of shoppers.

Tesco (£3.5 million) and Aldi (£3.0 million) were the next biggest spenders, while Iceland increased spend the most – up 616% year-on-year to £1.1 million.

“It’s interesting to see there’s also been a movement away from price-based messaging in TV and press ads,” notes Watkins. “In a renewed attempt to gain market share, retailers are starting to differentiate themselves by highlighting their range and service credentials – not just lower prices and value for money, which are fairly homogenous offerings in times of price deflation.” 

All figures are from Nielsen Homescan Total Till unless otherwise stated
¹Source: Nielsen Scantrack Grocery Multiples
²Source: 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 £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 £121bn 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. For more information, visit

More information

Alex Burmaster
Meteor Public Relations
Tel: 020 3544 3570
Mob: 0780 313 1144

Neil Beston
PR Director, UK & Europe
Tel: 020 3103 3959
Mob: 07770 644136