Top four supermarkets grow sales but lose market share

General View Of Morrisons Supermarket

Tesco PLC (TSCO.LN), the U.K.'s number one grocer by market share, grew sales 2.5% in the 12 weeks ended December 3, to 7.61 billion pounds ($10.17 million).

Aldi reclaimed its crown as Britain's fastest growing grocer during the latest quarter, with sales up 15.1% year-on-year, pushing it marginally ahead of Lidl which grew sales by 14.5% during the past 12 weeks.

Nielsen's data shows Tesco had the most improved performance among the Big Four over the last 12 weeks, with sales up 3.4% year on year, followed by Sainsbury's at 1.9%.

The research found that prices are rising fastest in markets such as butter, fish and fresh pork, and are falling in only a few markets, including fresh poultry and crisps.

Grocery inflation was 3.6 percent in the 12 weeks to December 3, up from 3.4 percent in its November report, market researcher Kantar Worldpanel said.

The German grocer saw particular success in the chilled aisle, where sales of convenience products including ready meals and desserts have grown 40pc annually, as well as its Specially Selected line, which is the UK's fastest growing premium own-label brand with annual sales up 25pc.

Kantar forecast that over Friday Dec. 22 and Saturday Dec. 23 United Kingdom shoppers would spend 1.5 billion pounds ($2.0 billion). Lidl's market share rose to 5.1% from 4.6% and sales grew 15% to GBP1.38 billion, Kantar said.

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Similarly, J Sainsbury´s market share fell to 16.3% from 16.5%, despite sales rising 2% to £4.41bn.

Shares in Tesco were up 0.5 percent at 0938 GMT, Sainsbury's was down 2.7 percent and Morrisons was down 2.9 percent.

Asda sales climbed 1.2% with market share dipping to 15.0% from 15.3%.

"Despite higher prices the British public is well into the swing of festive shopping", Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, commented in a statement.

Ocado held on to market share at 1.3% thanks to solid 5.2% gain in the 12 weeks.

A sharp fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote a year ago has pushed import costs higher, putting a strain on supermarkets that have been trying to keep prices low to attract hard-hit customers in a competitive environment.

Co-op's sales fell by 1.5 per cent, taking market share down 0.3 percentage points to six per cent.

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