Shoppers save £327m amid supermarket price war

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The ongoing price war among Britain’s supermarkets has saved shoppers £327 million over the past 12 weeks, according to the latest industry data.

Market researcher Kantar Worldpanel also said that beleaguered market leader Tesco has returned to growth for the first time since January 2014, with sales in the 12 weeks to 1 February up 0.3 per cent on the same period last year.

The overall market expanded by 1.1 per cent, the fastest rise since June 2014, and today’s figures show that Asda has overtaken rival Sainsbury’s to regain its position as the UK’s second-largest grocer.

Although Asda’s sales were down 1.7 per cent in the period, its market share of 16.9 per cent is now ahead of Sainsbury’s, which saw its sales fall 1 per cent and its command of the sector dip to 16.7 per cent.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Shoppers are taking advantage of both lower fuel prices and the continuing price war among the supermarkets to slightly increase their grocery spending.

“This has pushed the market into 1.1 per cent growth – low by historical standards but a considerable improvement compared to November 2014, when the market contracted.”

He added: “All of the major grocers have continued to compete fiercely on price leading to like-for-like grocery prices falling by 1.2 per cent. This is another record low, saving Britain’s shoppers £327m over the past 12 weeks.”

McKevitt also said that discount grocers Aldi and Lidl may find it difficult to maintain their stellar growth rates as the “big four” chains compete more aggressively on prices.

“Aldi’s growth of 21.2 per cent is still impressive but a relative slowing from its 36% peak in April 2014,” he added.

“Likewise, Lidl’s maximum growth of 24 per cent in May last year is now down to 14.2 per cent. Despite this slowdown, both retailers are still taking share from the other retailers.”

Aldi now has a 4.9 per cent market share, up from 4.1 per cent a year ago, while Lidl’s slice has grown from 3.1 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

At the other end of the market, Waitrose saw its sales jump 7.2 per cent, taking its overall share to 5.2 per cent.