Press Room

Supermarket figures “most encouraging” in over eight months

London, 1 June 2016. The latest UK supermarket sales figures are the most encouraging in over eight months, according to Nielsen retail performance data released today.

During the four weeks ending 21 May 2016, the value of sales was down just -0.1%¹ versus the same period a year ago, whilst volume was flat (0.0%¹). The last time both value and volume year-on-year figures were better than these (excluding an Easter-inflated period) was the four-week period ending 12 September 2015.

“These are the most encouraging figures for the supermarkets for quite some time, driven by the fortnight from the 7th May when good weather helped value growths return to positive territory of 2.1%,” says Watkins. “However, it does show how reliant they are on the weather for weekly growth, particularly with deflation continuing to drive food prices down².

“Nevertheless, the underlying sales trend is slowly improving and the supermarkets should return to sustainable, albeit low, positive growth later in the summer. With the proportion of shoppers switching to cheaper grocery brands to save money at a lowest-ever level³, this indicates that initiatives to reduce prices permanently and run less promotions is resonating well with shoppers.”

The amount of the average supermarket shopping bill that went on promotional items in the four-week period remained at the new seven-year low of 29%.

The Big Four all lose market share

All four of the major supermarkets saw a decline in sales during the twelve-week period ending 21 May 2016 – Asda’s being the most pronounced (-5.6% year-on-year). In contrast, Aldi (+14.2%) and Lidl (+13.2%) continued to see large year-on-year gains.

Watkins observes: “The Co-operatives continued to do well, reaching a market share of 5.6% – even before the major re-brand was announced. They continue to attract new shoppers and, despite the deflationary environment, are seeing shoppers spend more per visit – the complete opposite to what’s happening among the Big Four.”

Price cuts and better weather helped some categories to their best figures this year – Delicatessen saw a 3.8% increase in sales value during the four weeks ending 21 May 2016, while Produce saw a 2.4% rise. Both categories saw a 4.1% increase in volume.

“Cutting fresh food prices is an important weapon for the supermarkets in their battle with the discounters along with provenance,” notes Watkins. “Six-in-10 shoppers actively choose to buy British foods⁴ and many look to buy foods from their local area, so helping shoppers understand how a product is produced or sourced is another differentiator.”

– ENDS –

All figures are from Nielsen Homescan Total Till unless otherwise stated
¹Source: Nielsen Scantrack Grocery Multiples
²Source: BRC Nielsen SPI (shop prices in food retailing fell -0.3% in May)
³Source: Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index, Q1 2016
⁴Source: Nielsen Homescan Survey

About Nielsen Homescan Total Till

The Nielsen continuous 14,500 GB household panel is geo-demographically balanced and designed to measure household purchasing through a wide range of channels. It includes all food and drink and non-food spend (e.g. household, personal care, clothing, electrical, cards and stationery, toys, music, general merchandise, etc.) It represents the total amount paid (after all coupons and vouchers), found on the till receipt.

About Nielsen Scantrack

The Nielsen scanning service that measures total store sales every week by SKU for 15,000 shops across all food and drink trade channels in GB. This uses the actual EPOS data from retailers, thus, Scantrack is the most robust and reliable measure of FMCG sales and is integrated with Homescan for the key indicators of retailer and category performance. The total market measured is £145bn per annum. ‘Grocery Multiples’ is a defined sub-set of the major supermarkets that also includes all food sales from Marks and Spencer (but excludes Aldi and Lidl). The Grocery Multiples account for over £121bn of all GB food, drink and supermarket general merchandise sales.

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. For more information, visit

More information
Alex Burmaster
Meteor Public Relations
Tel: 020 3544 3570
Mob: 0780 313 1144