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Supermarkets see first sales growth in 8 months due to early Easter

London, 5 April 2016. Spending at UK supermarkets has risen for the first time in more than eight months, according to the latest data from global information and insights company Nielsen.

The value of sales during the four-week period ending 26 March 2016 was up +2.5%¹ versus the same period a year ago. This was primarily due to Easter occurring a week earlier this year than last year. The last genuine year-on-year gain was the four weeks ending 18 July 2015 (+0.4%) – more than eight months ago.

Sales volume during the four-week period increased +1.3%¹ versus the same period a year ago – halting a run of six consecutive declines.

“Although the early Easter gave retailers a welcome boost, sales during the core two-week Easter trading period were down 2% versus last year, due to deflation and further price cutting,” says Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins. “Only confectionery, alcohol and, to a lesser degree, some fresh foods provided positive industry growth. Getting back to sustained sales growth really requires deflation to be replaced by low inflation.”

M&S and Waitrose standout performers

During the 12 weeks ending 26 March, M&S (+4.2%) and Waitrose (+2.9%) enjoyed the biggest increase in year-on-year sales, after the discounters. The Co-operative’s rise (+2.1%) saw their market share increase to 5.5%.

In contrast, Asda (-4.7%) and Morrisons (-2.3%) experienced the biggest declines in year-on-year sales.

Watkins notes: “With two peak sales events in the last four weeks – Mothering Sunday and Easter Saturday – M&S and Waitrose were particularly adept at using media campaigns to highlight their seasonal and indulgent food and drink offerings. They harnessed the trend of shopping around for the most attractive offers and promotions.”

Looking ahead, Watkins concludes: “Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Co-operative should continue to perform well over the next six months. The trend of buying ‘little and often’ seems set with shoppers, finding it convenient to visit local neighbourhood stores as a complement to out-of-town shopping.” 

– ENDS –

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

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 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 across all devices where 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 provides its clients with both world-class measurement as well as analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90 percent of the world’s population. For more information, visit

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Alex Burmaster
Meteor Public Relations
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Neil Beston
PR Director, UK & Europe
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