There was little Christmas cheer for the supermarket sector - but some individual grocers outperformed the wider market, Kantar Worldpanel said this morning.
The sector as a whole fell 0.2 per cent in the 12 weeks to 3 January, with Asda dropping the furthest - consumer spend at the Walmart-owned retailer was down 3.5 per cent. Tesco also recorded a poor period, with sales down 2.7 per cent, while Morrisons was down 2.6 per cent.
In fact, Sainsbury's was the only one of the Big Four in growth over the period - up a sector-beating 0.8 per cent, and continuing a stretch of outperformance recorded by the business more recently.
But investors were still optimistic: Tesco's share price was up 5.5 per cent in early trading, buoyed by Morrisons' better-than-expected results, which have pushed up its share price 10 per cent. Sainsbury's share price was also up 2.9 per cent.
However, the Co-operative, Waitrose and discounters Aldi and Lidl all performed strongly, with the former two up 1.4 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively, while spend at the German grocers climbed 13.3 per cent and 18.5 per cent.
Almost one in eight British consumers shopped at Aldi or Lidi during December, on top of the 15.6m households who visited one of the two at some point over the 12 week period, Kantar said. That's an increase of nearly one million shoppers on last year.
While it was a difficult period for the traditional retailers, consumers benefited from falling food prices.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Shoppers reaped the benefit of falling prices this Christmas, with groceries 1.8 per cent cheaper than last year. The amount spent on a typical Christmas dinner fell even faster – down by 2.2 per cent – mainly due to cheaper poultry and traditional vegetable trimmings. Alcohol sales increased thanks to a surge in popularity for sparkling wines including Champagne and Prosecco, which increased in value by 11 per cent.
“Wednesday 23 December was the single biggest shopping day of the year, but the anticipated uplift from an extra day in the week before Christmas didn’t help the supermarkets overall. Consumers simply delayed their shopping trips later this year, rather than making any extra trips.”