Written by: Keith Tully
Reviewed: Wednesday 24th August, 2016
The four largest supermarket chains in the UK all saw their sales levels fall on a year-to-year comparative basis during the recent summer months.
According to the latest figures from researchers at Kantar Worldpanel, the UK’s supermarket sector as a whole experienced sales growth of 0.3 per cent during the 12 weeks prior to August 12th.
But for Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons the trend of declining sales figures continued during that same period.
Meanwhile, Aldi and Lidl recorded like-for-like sales growth of 10.4 per cent and 12.2 per cent respectively over the summer, with the discount German retailers continuing to eat into the market shares of the UK’s biggest supermarkets.
Of the four most established supermarket giants in the UK, Asda has fared worst of late, with the American-owned retailer posting its worst ever set of quarterly financial results just last week.
As compared with its performance last summer, Asda posted sales figures down by as much as 5.5 per cent for the 12 weeks to August 12th.
On the same comparative basis, Tesco’s sales dropped 0.4 per cent, Sainsbury’s fell 0.6 per cent and Morrisons’ were down by 1.8 per cent.
The declines in sales among the so-called Big Four supermarkets came despite warm summer weather and positivity surrounding Great Britain’s excellent showing at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which recent data suggests had a positive impact on retail sector performance more generally across the country.
“Brexit seems to have been replaced by an Olympic 'feel-good' factor among shoppers,” said Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at the consumer research firm Nielsen.
According to both Kantar Worldpanel and Nielsen, the UK’s biggest supermarkets have been moving away from an approach based on special offers and towards a simpler pricing model and permanent price cuts.
Indeed, this trend saw the scale of sales made on promoted items fall by as much as 28 per cent among the Big Four supermarkets in the four weeks prior to August 13th, Nielsen’s latest figures suggest.
Price wars between Britain’s biggest supermarket chains have been blamed for sending hundreds of smaller scale food and drink suppliers around the country into financial distress and administration in recent years.