Continuing price deflation meant there was no Christmas uplift for the British grocery market as sales fell 0.2% on last year. But Waitrose, The Co-operative and Sainsbury’s successfully grew ahead of the market. 

The latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending 3 January showed that shoppers pocketed the change over Christmas as one million more headed to the discounters compared to the same period last year.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Shoppers reaped the benefit of falling prices this Christmas”, adding that groceries were 1.8% cheaper than last year. The amount spent on a typical Christmas lunch was down by 2.2%, which he said was because poultry and vegetable trimmings were cheaper. Alcohol sales increased thanks to a surge in popularity for sparkling wines, including Champagne and prosecco, which increased in value by 11%.

Sainsbury’s was the best performing of the traditional supermarkets, attracting an additional 114,000 shoppers, with sales increasing by 0.8% on last year. Its premium Taste the Difference brand posted its biggest ever Christmas sales.

Lidl was the fastest-growing retailer overall, with sales up 18.5%, Aldi followed with an increase in sales of 13.3%.

Fraser McKevitt continued: “The discounters are continuing to establish themselves in the minds of British consumers – almost one in eight did their single biggest December shopping trip in Aldi or Lidl, on top of the 15.6 million households who visited at some point in the 12 weeks.” 

That represents an increase of nearly one million shoppers on last year, and their combined share is up from 8.3% last year to 9.7%. But despite Aldi and Lidl’s success, consumers are still spending most of their money in more traditional supermarkets, and “total discounter share has dipped from the 10.0% achieved just before Christmas”.

Shoppers trading up

Tesco sales fell 2.7%, but an investment in its ‘festive five’ fruit and vegetable promotions meant it was an improvement on last month’s performance. The retailer’s share went down to 28.3%, with Asda and Morrisons also declining to 16.2% and 11.0% respectively. 

Waitrose once again benefited from shoppers trading up at Christmas, growing sales by 1.5% and taking share back up to 5.2%. The Co-operative also won share at Christmas for the first time since its Somerfield acquisition – it recorded a sales growth of 1.4%, which was enough for it to secure 6.0% of the market.