Tesco wins Big Four Christmas food battle

UK shoppers spent almost £500 million more on food in December 2017 than in the final month of 2016 with Tesco, in particular, achieving the largest sales growth of the Big Four in the final quarter of last year.

Grocery spend in the four weeks ending December 30 hit £10.5 billion, equivalent to a 3.7% year-on-year rise, according to new data released today by Nielsen.

“The supermarkets did well this Christmas, particularly amid fierce price competition and shoppers starting to feel the squeeze on disposable incomes,” said Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight (pictured above).

“It was in stark contrast to many high street retailers who saw less footfall and sales declines. The timing of Christmas day certainly helped as it was conducive to last minute indulgences and fresh foods.”

Online sales played a key part in the month with 18% of households shopping online for groceries in December (up from 16% last year).

Among the Big Four, Tesco had the most improved performance over the final 12 weeks of the year, with sales up 3.4% year-on-year, followed by Asda at 2.1%.

Looking forward, Mr Watkins added that the grocery market will continue to grow at around 3% for the first part of the year, albeit with trade still being subject to inflation shocks around oil prices and the uncertainty around the Brexit negotiations, which could affect shopper sentiment.

“The industry is now much better placed to navigate these disruptions, however,” he said. “Overall, we see shopper spend in food retail being maintained and shoppers making savings elsewhere to manage household budgets.”

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Freelance journalist Colin Ley is Pig World's website news reporter