Waitrose and budget stores winning sales

Elizabeth Fournier
UK CONSUMER habits are becoming increasingly divided, accordingly to new retail data that shows higher-end and budget retailers growing market share while those occupying the middle ground lose out.

Kantar Worldpanel figures for the 12 weeks to 15 April 2012 showed upmarket supermarket Waitrose increasing market share from 4.3 per cent to 4.5 per cent compared to the same period in 2011, while discount retailer Aldi grew to 2.7 per cent from 2.2 per cent.

“The discounters and Waitrose are outperforming the middle ground as shoppers polarise their spend,” said Edward Garner, director at Kantar Worldpanel.

Though Tesco’s share of the UK market ticked up slightly to 30.7 per cent in the 12 weeks to 15 April compared to the previous period, it is still down on this time last year, when it held 30.9 per cent of the grocery market.

In January Tesco saw its slice of the market dip below 30 per cent for the first time, reflecting increasing worries that the UK’s number one retailer is losing its grip on the top spot. Chief executive Philip Clarke has since announced a range of strategic changes to its UK business that are designed to bring customers back to the fold.

Including the benefits from the Netto stores it has now integrated, Asda saw the strongest growth among the big four compared to the previous three months, growing sales by 8.3 per cent. Sainsbury’s overall share remained flat at 16.6 per cent.

Waitrose, which is owned by John Lewis, benefited from better-off shoppers who “refuse to let economic pressures affect their food purchasing,” said Garner.

During the period, grocery inflation remained at 5.5 per cent – unchanged from the two previous reports.

Though the total market grew by five per cent, this was largely due to increasing food prices rather than real volume increases.