After more than two years in growth, the Co-op Group’s grocery sales have declined by 0.4%, according to the latest figures from retail analyst Kantar Worldpanel.
The Group’s market share fell to 6.3%, down 0.3 percentage points compared to this time last year, which Kantar says is down to the retailer’s sale of nearly 300 stores to convenience chain McColl’s.
A spokesperson for the Group said: “Our trading remains strong and the change in sales is a result of the disposal of 298 stores to McColl’s.”
In a bid for sales growth, the Group has been in talks to buy mutual convenience chain Nisa, although Sainsbury’s has been the frontrunner.
It also recently trialled the sale of its products in McColl’s stores. McColl’s finally opted for a deal with Morrisons, with the Group saying it was exploring other “innovative” avenues for growth.
Elsewhere, Lidl grew its market share to 5.2% to become the UK’s seventh largest grocer, overtaking Waitrose. Waitrose, part of the worker-owned John Lewis Partnership, grew sales by 2.8%, holding its market share steady at 5.1%.
Lidl’s success is part of a continuing trend that has seen the discounters in the market grow at more than four times the rate of the Big Four – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons.
Its growth came among families with children, who tend to buy more each time they shop, added Kantar.
Widespread growth in the market was helped along by grocery inflation, increasing slightly to 3.3%, the analyst said.
Aldi grew sales by 17.2 per cent, increasing market share by 0.8 percentage points to 7%
Tesco grew its sales by 3% but lost 0.3 per cent of its dominant market share.
Sainsbury’s sales also saw a 2% jump, but its market share also fell 0.3% to 15.8%.
Morrisons’ sales jumped 2.6% while its market share dropped to 10.4%.
Asda also recently reported a return to positive growth following more than 10 consecutive quarters of decline.
Online grocer Ocado was hot on the discounters heels as its growth rates shot up 12.4%, raising its market share to 1.4%.