Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket group, outperformed its major rivals during the key Christmas period, achieving its highest grocery market share since January 2018, fresh data published today reveals.
Market researcher Kantar said Tesco’s grocery sales over the 12 weeks to 26 December slipped by 0.9 per cent against the same period in 2020, but on a two-year basis its sales were up 10.1 per cent, and its market share increased by 0.6 percentage points to 27.9 per cent.
In October, Tesco raised its full year earnings forecast and some analysts believe it could hike its outlook again when it publishes a trading update on 13 January.
Market share: Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket group, outperformed its major rivals during the key Christmas period, achieving its highest grocery market share since January 2018
Tesco’s biggest rivals, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons saw their sales slip by 4.4 per cent, 3.9 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively over the 12-week period compared with 2020.
On a store-by-store basis, all major grocery businesses failed to increase sales during the 12-week period to Boxing Day compared with a year ago – when restrictions were in place that saw the hospitality sector and non-essential retailers closed.
On a sales basis, Aldi performed best, with flat sales, followed by Lidl which saw a 0.3 per cent fall; although both saw their market share slip.
The worst-performers front a sales perspective were Co-op, down 6.6 per cent, and Morrisons and Iceland, which were down 6.5 per cent and 6.1 per cent respectively; but all three saw market share increase.
Online operator Ocado was the only grocer to grow its sales year-on-year, likely benefiting from progress on its joint venture with Marks & Spencer.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: ‘We should find out how this translates into financial performance when the supermarkets start updating the market themselves next week.’
Total UK grocery sales came in at £31.7billion over the crucial 12-week period, down 3 per cent on levels seen in 2020, but up 8 per cent on 2019 levels.
Sales hit £11.7 billion in December, down just 0.2 per cent on the record-breaking same month a year ago when strict restrictions were in place.
Sales: Ocado was the only grocer to grow its sales year-on-year, likely benefiting from progress on its joint venture with Marks & Spencer
Fraser McKevitt, Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight, said: ‘The data suggests that while there weren’t formal Covid-19 rules in place across the UK this year, many people celebrated at home again due to Omicron.’
Sales of mince pies across all supermarkets hit £62million, up 7 per cent on 2020, and £61million was spent on Christmas chocolates, representing a 21 per cent increase on the year before.
Managing all that extra food also led to an 8 per cent jump in sales of indigestion remedies.
Some traditional products were shunned, however, with sprout sales down 3 per cent, Kantar added.
There was also a shift towards more vegetarian Christmases, with chilled vegetarian ranges increasing in sales by 6 per cent and frozen equivalents up 4 per cent.
Tasty: Britons splashed out £62m on mince pies at supermarkets over the festive period
Sparkling and still wine sales grew 22 per cent and 18 per cent respectively, while sales of crisps swelled by 31 per cent.
Premium own-label sales broke records this Christmas with shoppers spending £627million on supermarkets’ own upmarket lines over the month to 26 December, marking an increase of 6.8 per cent on 2020 levels.
Mr McKevitt said: ‘Tesco’s Finest and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference are easily the largest premium own-label ranges, but we saw the fastest growth from other ranges such as Asda Extra Special and Iceland Luxury.’
Kantar said grocery price inflation reached 3.5 per cent in December, its highest level since spring 2020, adding nearly £15 to shoppers’ average monthly grocery bills.
It found that prices were rising fastest in markets like fresh beef, savoury snacks and skincare, while falling in fresh bacon, bath and shower products and spirits.
Last month, the Bank of England revised up its inflation forecast to predict consumer price inflation would peak at a 30-year high of around 6 per cent in April.
Despite the rise of the Omicron variant, in-store shopping remained popular, with the biggest number of in-store visits since before the pandemic in December.
Mr McKevitt said: ‘Shoppers clearly trusted that supermarket shelves would remain well stocked and they didn’t feel the need to rush out much earlier to get their favourite festive treats.’
Online sales fell by 3.7 per cent in December compared to levels seen in 2020, and accounting for 12.2 per cent of sales.
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