The latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel show the grocery market declining for the first time since January but with steady progress for the Co-op Group.
The figures, for the 12 weeks ending 19 June 2016, show supermarket sales falling by 0.2%, with like-for-like grocery prices having declined by 1.4% from last year.
Compared with the same period last year, the Co-op’s percentage change has grown 2.0% to a market share of 6.3% overall. The discounters of Lidl and Aldi hit a record combined market share of 10.5% (4.4% and 6.1% respectively) with 58% of Britons visiting one of the two discounters in the last 12 weeks.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “It’s been a good period for the smaller retailers. Co-op’s growth of 2.0% has cemented its recent revival, heralding a full year of increasing sales.”
There was also good news for Waitrose, part of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership. Mr McKevitt added: “At Waitrose, small but rapidly increasing sales of its premium Waitrose 1 brand have helped the retailer grow by 1.3%. Waitrose has now had an unbroken period of growth dating back to 2009 – the best run of any of the retailers outside of the discounters.”
The larger retailers continued the trends of recent performances. Sales at the big four all fell: Tesco by 1.3%; Morrisons by 2.4%; Sainsbury’s by 1.4% and Asda by 5.9%. Each has lost market share from last year.
Immediate economic uncertainty is unlikely to cause a substantial fall in grocery volumes
The figures account for the period immediately before the EU referendum, with the overall decline not linked to the result. Mr McKevitt explained that the decline is a continuation of slow supermarket growth which could be traced back to summer 2014, as a retailer price war led to cheaper groceries.
“The immediate economic uncertainty (post-EU referendum) is unlikely to cause a substantial fall in grocery volumes, as demonstrated by the 2008 financial crisis when basic food, drinks and household sales proved resilient.
“With an estimated 40% of the food we consume sourced from overseas, any long term change in exchange rates may threaten the current period of cheaper groceries. Historically, higher prices have led to consumers looking for less expensive alternatives such as own-label products, seeking out brands on promotion or visiting cheaper retailers.”