Press Room

Sales volumes at supermarkets rise for third straight month

Falling prices encouraging shoppers to buy more – stabilisation of sector may finally be underway

London, 13 March 2015. The volume of items purchased from the UK’s leading supermarkets increased year-on-year for the third consecutive month, according to the latest data from global information and insights company Nielsen. This follows 17 consecutive monthly year-on-year declines (barring one seasonal anomaly).

Sales volume increased +1.0%¹ during the four weeks ending 28 February 2015 versus the same period a year ago. Sales value during the four-week period was down -0.7%¹ versus the same period a year ago. Food deflation stands at -0.4%².

“Lower commodity prices, more retailer price cuts and ongoing promotions continue to make grocery shopping cheaper than it was last year,” says Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight. “This is now leading to sustained volume growth, suggesting the consistent decline in supermarket sales that characterised last year may finally be over.

“At a category level, there’s volume growth in Confectionery, Drinks, Snacks and Bakery. In addition, deflation is currently having the biggest impact on Packaged Grocery and Fresh and Chilled foods, so we expect volume growth to follow in these categories too. 

“This good news is likely to be amplified with spring on the horizon, as Easter is often a turning point in sales momentum.  It’s realistic to expect we’ll see a sustained period of shoppers buying higher volumes.”

Morrisons’ momentum temporarily stalls – but still Big Four’s best performer
During the 12 weeks ending 28 February, Morrisons was the only one of the big four supermarkets not to see a decline in year-on-year sales. Although sales were flat (0% growth), spend per visit at Morrisons continues to increase.

Among the Big Four, Asda was the worst performer (sales declined -2.2%) followed by Sainsbury        (-1.4%), however, Sainsbury’s trading performance improved in the last four weeks. Tesco’s year-on-year sales declined -1.1% over the last 12 weeks, despite attracting more shoppers. 

Aldi’s sales grew 16.1% year-on-year, and Lidl’s, 13.3%. However, their market share remained at 10.7% for the second consecutive 12-week period. 

Sainsbury’s biggest spender on TV and Press advertising for second consecutive month
In the four weeks ending 28 February 2015, Sainsbury’s again spent the most on TV and press advertising (£4.7 million³) – 82% more than the same period last year – just ahead of Asda (£4.6 million).

Iceland increased spend the most – up 322% to £1.7 million – followed by Lidl (up 124% to £3.2 million).

All figures are from Nielsen Homescan Total Till unless otherwise stated
¹Source: Nielsen Scantrack Grocery Multiples
²Source: BRC-Nielsen SPI February
³Source: 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
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