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UK supermarkets suffer following a month of moderation

By Charlotte Ricca

Ocado retains its position as Britain’s fastest growing supermarket

UK supermarkets endured a sluggish January as shoppers shunned alcohol and meat in favour of a healthier lifestyle.

According to market research firm Kantar, total grocery sales rose just 0.3 per cent in the 12 weeks preceding January 26, while the “big four” supermarket groups all saw a slump in year-on-year sales.

“Many people start the year with good intentions and pledges to make healthier choices following the excesses of the festive period,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

Industry leader Tesco saw sales falls of 0.9 per cent, while Sainsbury’s, which is the UK’s number two supermarket, was the best performer of the big four, with a sales decline of 0.6 per cent.

Despite the decline, Sainsbury’s performance is improving, with online sales growing by 7 per cent year on year. Sainsbury’s now accounts for 15.8 per cent of the market.

Sales at Walmart-owned Asda also dropped by 2.2 per cent, while Morrisons was down 3.0 per cent.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Lidl achieved double digit growth, up by 11.1 per cent, and Aldi rose 5.7 per cent, giving them a combined market share of 13.8 per cent.

“A key factor in the advance of the discounters has been their ability to attract additional shoppers, each welcoming more than 800,000 extra visitors through their doors in the past year, supported by strong store opening programmes,” said McKevitt.

The Co-op continued its run of growth, which stretches back to May 2018, with sales now up by 2.7 per cent.

Ocado retained its position as Britain’s fastest growing supermarket, with overall sales up 11.2 per cent, and its market share rising 0.2 percentage points.

While over half of the grocer’s sales come from London and the South of England, its quickest growth was in the North, where sales rose 17 per cent.

The good news had little impact on Ocado’s share price, with an increase of just 0.049 per cent the time of writing. Sainsbury’s was up 1.19 per cent at 0906 GMT, Tesco rose 0.8 per cent and Morrisons was up 0.44 per cent.

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