Total Till sales at UK supermarkets grew 8.7% in the past four weeks ending 4 November, against a backdrop of slowing inflation and an increase in promotional activity, new data reveals.
The NIQ data reveals an improvement in volume sales (-0.2%) in the past four weeks compared to this time last year.
However, with the average spend per visit increasing to £20.20 – up from £18.60 this time last year – shoppers remain cautious when spending on food and drinks and are likely preserving their spending power ahead of the festive season.
This has impacted sales for general merchandise, such as Halloween items, toys, clothing and homewares, with weak sales (-4.9%) at major supermarkets.
NIQ data also reveals that a slowdown in inflation has led to a decrease in supermarket visits compared to last year, as shopping behaviours have begun to normalise. Online sales have grown (+5.1%), with the online share of FMCG remaining at 11%.
The Halloween and half term period led to an uplift in confectionery sales (+15.3%), and it was the category that experienced the highest value growth in sales over the four-week period. This was followed by meat, fish & poultry (+10.4%), and packaged grocery (+10.2%). However, beer, wine and spirits (+2.3%) and household (+2%) had weaker growth.
Mike Watkins, NIQ’s UK Head of Retailer and Business Insight, said: “This autumn, shoppers have been carefully managing their grocery budget and making trade-offs with other spending which means the supermarkets will need to get shoppers into the mood to spend as we get closer to December. Christmas campaigns will be more important than usual as shoppers are looking for smart savings and good reasons to spend. Many shoppers will be holding out for a few more weeks with the hope of not missing out.”
In terms of retailer performance, Aldi (+17.7%) and Lidl (+19.1%) continued to grow market share, and Sainsbury’s (10%), Tesco (+9.6%) and M&S (+14.4%) also had strong sales growth. In addition, Ocado (+11.5%) grew its market share.
Watkins added: “All eyes will now be on the top two retailers, Tesco and Sainsbury’s to pull off a strong performance in the weeks ahead. M&S will also be optimistic of significant growth and we also expect the discounters Aldi and Lidl to gain market share this Christmas.
“All five retailers are also expected to drive strong growth in premium food and drink when shoppers finally embrace the festive spirit.”