Grocery sales are up 3.2 per cent on last year, with Tesco and Morrisons performing strongest in a period of growth for each of the big four retailers, according to Kantar.
Market share figures for the 12 weeks to 25 February show that total market sales growth exceeded three per cent for the 12th consecutive period.
Tesco and Morrisons were neck and neck as the fastest growing of the big four, both enjoying sales growth of 2.7 per cent. “Tesco continues to perform well – more positive news following approval of its Booker acquisition last week,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel.
He added: “Despite a slight fall in market share of 0.1 percentage points, Tesco experienced particularly strong growth from its Extra superstores. The varied selection of groceries on offer at these larger stores has encouraged customers to return to fuller trolley shops, with average baskets worth £31.09 – currently, the highest value in the bricks and mortar market.”
Morrisons, meanwhile, has maintained its market share of 10.6 per cent after its 16th consecutive period of growth. Its premium own-label line The Best proved particularly successful, with sales rising by 20 per cent year on year as cooked meats, vegetables and cakes and pastries sold well.
Commenting on overarching drivers for growth in the market, McKevitt added: “The grocery market remains in good health, spurred on by February festivities such as Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year, which lend themselves to a focus on ready meals.
“Over the month, sales of chilled ready meals which form part of a meal deal jumped by 26 per cent as retailers offered customers the opportunity to wine and dine at home without the fuss, while Chinese ready meals also rose by more than a quarter.”
At Sainsbury’s, whose sales grew by 1.1 per cent, there are no signs of a let up in the shift away from discounted products. Only 34.5 per cent of its sales were on promotion in the past 12 weeks, compared to 41.9 per cent for the rest of the big four.
Meanwhile, an increase in customer numbers at Asda drove sales growth of 2.3 per cent – its highest sales rise since June 2014.
“Over the past 12 weeks, Asda attracted an additional 309,000 shoppers through its doors,” McKevitt said. “At odds with its traditionally brand-focused approach, Asda has also encouraged shoppers to choose own-label alternatives, which are up by 6.4 per cent year on year.
“Less than a year since its launch, the retailer’s Farm Stores range is bought by 30 per cent of all British households – with sales surpassing £50 million – while its premium Extra Special line increased sales by 19 per cent.”
At the discount end of the spectrum, Aldi and Lidl once again battled to be crowned the UK’s fastest-growing supermarket. Aldi pipped Lidl to the post this month as sales grew by 13.9 per cent and 13.3 per cent respectively.
With both supermarkets working hard to expand their store portfolio, Aldi and Lidl also benefited from increased shopper numbers as well as growth in basket size.