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Shoppers waiting for Christmas deals before spending says Nielsen

Published:  26 November, 2013

Consumers are increasingly holding back on their grocery shopping and waiting for Christmas deals to come in to play as the performance of the UK's major supermarkets declined for the third successive 12-week period, according to the latest statistics from retail analysts Nielsen.

Its figures show that aggregate sales value growths for the UK's leading supermarkets during the 12 weeks ending November 9 were up 1.7% year-on-year. This compares to 1.8% growth in the period to October 12, but are down from September and August which say growth rates of 3.3% and 3.4% respectively.

Volume sales also decreased 1.7% year-on-year in both the 12-week periods ending November 9 and October 12 against growth rates of -0.1% and +0.4% in the two previous periods. .

Mike Watkins, Nielsen's UK head of retailer and business insight, said of the figures: "Why is the UK supermarket sector slowing? It's partly down to shoppers becoming more savvy and displaying two behaviours. Firstly, more of them are shopping at grocery discounters and buying more of their regular items there. Secondly, they are putting off spending until nearer Christmas and chasing supermarket deals; retailers expect a significant amount of vouchers and loyalty rewards to be redeemed in December."

He added: "Colder weather often encourages visits to the larger out-of-town stores to stock up. So, we expect many consumers to leave their big Christmas shop until well into December - with the likes of Aldi and Lidl also really benefiting if their momentum continues."

Sainsbury's market share remained at 16.6% in the 12 weeks ending November 9 the same as the last year. Tesco, Asda and Morrisons all lost market share compared to a year ago.

Alid is the big mover with sales value increasing 29.1% year-on-year, which has boosted its overall market share by 0.9%. Lidl's market share is also up 0.1% due to a 17.4% increase in year-on-year sales value.

The supermarekts are also cutting back on TV and press advertising with total spend by the 10 leading UK supermarkets in the four weeks ending November 9 down 4.9%over the same period a year ago to £33.7m.

Morrisons had the biggest year-on-year increase in spend (up 40% to £5.8m) followed by Lidl (up 38% to £2.4m) and Aldi (up 21% to £4.0m). Tesco was the highest spending food retailer on TV and press in these four weeks (£6.6m) - 12% less than a year ago. 

Watkins notes: "Although media spend from the retailers is down overall, we expect a rebound during the next four weeks as their high profile Christmas advertising really takes hold. Lidl's 'Deluxe' and Aldi's 'Specially Selected' Christmas messaging is already underway and sets them in good stead for a chance at a good slice of those 'late and big' shopping baskets.

"The peak shopping period should be mid-December onwards. Assuming a similar pattern to last year, more than 20% of sales for the 12 weeks of Christmas are expected in the two weeks leading up to Christmas day, with peak trading commencing on 19 December."