The “big four” supermarkets have enjoyed their best run of sales growth for at least two years, partly driven by celebrations of Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic successes.
Industry data shows that Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons fought back as the summer progressed against discounters Aldi and Lidl, helped by strong sales of alcohol, particularly champagne and prosecco.
Retail consultancy Kantar Worldpanel said sales of bubbly jumped 36 per cent in the past four weeks as Team GB continued to strike gold, while alcohol sales overall rose 8.5 per cent.
Separate data from Nielsen showed that the big four food retailers saw two months of successive sales growth by value and volume for the first time in more than two years.
Nielsen said the value of sales rose 0.4 per cent year-on-year in the four weeks to 10 September, while sales volumes increased 0.3 per cent.
Market leader Tesco notched up its best performance since March 2014 in the 12 weeks to 11 September, thanks in part to its summer “drinks festival”, narrowing its sales falls to 0.2 per cent year-on-year, according to Kantar.
But it continued to lose market share, falling to 28.1 per cent from from 28.2 per cent, as did all its big rivals.
Sainsbury’s sales fell 1.4 per cent and its share of the sector eased back to 15.9 per cent from 16.2 per cent a year earlier as it took a hit from axing its promotions in favour of everyday lower prices.
Struggling rival Asda remained under pressure as sales fell 5.2 per cent and its market share dropped to 15.7 per cent from 16.7 per cent a year ago, while Morrisons’s moves to cut its number of stores saw its sales slip 2.3 per cent and its share fall to 10.4 per cent from 10.7 per cent.
Upmarket chain Waitrose was also boosted by alcohol as its “half price event” saw sales rise 3.4 per cent year-on-year over the 12 weeks, helping the retailer reach a new record market share of 5.3 per cent, up from 5.2 per cent a year ago.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “While overall sales growth has been slow, consumers have been keen to celebrate Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic golden summer.”
Aldi grew sales 11.6 per cent, while Lidl’s sales powered 9.5 per cent ahead. Kantar said shoppers now spend an average of £19.24 when visiting the discount retailers, up 4 per cent – “not to be sniffed at” at a time of falling prices.