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European grocery market growing at “snail’s pace”

Europe, EU – Nov 30, 2016  The amount consumers across Europe spent on everyday items, such as food, drinks and toiletries, rose in Q3 2016 by the third lowest level on record, according to Nielsen retail performance data released today.

In the third quarter of 2016, prices paid for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) rose just 0.8% year-on-year, whilst volumes rose 0.3%. Consequently, grocery retailers saw a 1.1% increase in takings at the till – the third lowest figure since measurement began in the final quarter of 2008.

Across the 21 European countries measured, Turkey had the highest growth in takings at the tills (+8.1%), followed by Spain (+3.6%) and Slovakia (+3.5%). At the other end of the scale, the biggest declines were in Greece (-6.3%) and Finland (-6.0%).

Of the big five western European markets, Spain (+3.6%) had the highest growth, followed by Germany (+0.8%). The UK had the biggest fall among this group (-0.7%), and the third biggest fall among all 21 countries.

“The grocery market in Europe continues to grow at a snail’s pace, partly due to the performance of the big five markets, all of whom, except one, is performing below the European average,” says Olivier Deschamps, Senior Vice President Retailer Services Europe. “The exception is Spain which was boosted by a long summer and the consequent impact of tourists which helped improve the economic situation by driving high volume growth of seasonal products.

“The decline in the UK is largely driven by the price war that continued over the summer. However, the Q3 figures are a noticeable improvement on the previous quarter. The major Supermarkets are encouraging shoppers to spend with simpler price cuts rather complex promotions and this is helping to slowdown the loss of sales to the discounters. We expect the industry to end the year with growth flat, which will be the start of a recovery in food retail sales after three years of deflation.

“In France, whilst volumes are eroding, the mix in the shopping basket is changing – driven by product innovations, organic products and local goods from small local companies – which is supporting nominal value growth.

“Similar to France, Germany is seeing nominal growth, through a higher value mix of products in the shopping basket in key categories like fresh fruits, soft drinks, tobacco, confectionary and fats & oils as well as the rising popularity of organic products.”

“In Italy, volumes are increasing as the economy slowly recovers, however, shoppers are keeping to the purchasing strategies they adopted during the economic crisis of switching to cheaper grocery brands and taking advantage of promotions.”

– ENDS –


Unit Value Change = the change in the price paid by a shopper for a unit (item), as a result of price inflation, and/or the shopper substituting a unit of one value for a unit of a different value.

Nominal Value Growth (or the change in takings at the tills) = Unit Value Change + Volume Change

About the Nielsen Growth Reporter

The Nielsen Growth Reporter compares overall market dynamics (value and unit growth) in the FMCG sector across Europe. It is based on the sales measurement that Nielsen performs in 21 European markets, and covers sales in grocery, hypermarket, supermarket, discount and convenience channels. It’s based on the widest possible basket of product categories that are continuously measured by Nielsen in each of these countries and channels.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement as well as analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90 percent of the world’s population.