Record Christmas sales for supermarkets

UK supermarkets have seen their busiest Christmas period since before the pandemic, according to new figures.

The latest monthly report from industry analyst Kantar shows that consumers made 488 million trips to the supermarkets in the four weeks to 24 December — 12 million more than last year. Friday 22 December was the most popular shopping day, when just over 25 million trips to stores were made.

Transactions in the four-week period reached the highest level for December since 2019, and spending climbed to £13.7bn.

Inflation was largely behind this record figure, with total take-home grocery sales growing in value by 7.0% while the number of items bought rose by 2%.

However, grocery price inflation is continuing to fall and in December it declined for the tenth month in a row to 6.7% — down from 9.1% in November, the fastest pace ever recorded.

The average household spent £477 in supermarkets across the month, an increase of £28 on 2022. 

Shoppers turned to promotions to help cut costs. Nearly one-third of all supermarket spending in the four weeks to Christmas Eve went on items with some kind of offer.

Retailers’ own-label lines also performed well, with sales of premium ranges like Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference and Tesco Finest up 11.9% compared with last year and accounting for 5.7% of all grocery sales.

Looking at sales of traditional Christmas dinner items, Kantar said that volumes of parsnips, sprouts and potatoes were up 12%, 9% and 8% respectively compared to last year, while sales of festive meats grew by 6% in volume. Mince pies and Christmas puddings were less popular, with volumes falling by 4% and 7%, but fresh cream was up 5% across the month, suggesting that dessert was still very much on the menu.

Aldi to launch online shopping site for fine wines by the case

Discount retail chain Aldi has revealed that it plans to introduce a new online shopping site for wine for home delivery or for collection from third party locations in early 2016.

It was announced on Monday that the company’s online wine shop will be followed by the launch of non-food Specialbuys in Spring 2016. Aldi Specialbuys include electrical, baby& toddler essentials, camping and clothing, along with gardening or DIY products, which are only available for a limited time.

Aldi currently operates 598 stores in the UK and expects to open 65 new stores this year. Although its operating profits fell to GBP260.3m from GBP271.4m in the 12 months to 31 December 2014 partly due to price cut, the UK’s sixth biggest supermarket achieved record annual sales in 2014, when its sales rose 31% to GBP6.9bn, in comparison to GBP5.27bn in the previous year.

Matthew Barnes, CEO of Aldi UK, reportedly stated that the company would not necessarily start selling food online, but said that “I wouldn’t say it’s inevitable. Wine by the case and non-food is the most viable place for us to start.

“We wouldn’t do anything to endanger our model or threaten our cost base.”

Barnes added: “As the grocery market continues to evolve, our unique model, operational efficiency, private ownership and financial strength mean we’re able to keep investing in our business – from people and presence to products and prices.”

French retailer Carrefour exists Indonesia in €525m deal

French retail major Carrefour SA (EPA:CA) on Tuesday announced a EUR525m (USD671.5m) deal to sell the 60% stake it holds in its Indonesian unit to local partner CT Corp, as part of an ongoing strategy to focus on core operations.

This deal will see CT Group becoming the sole owner of Carrefour Indonesia and Carrefour’s exclusive franchisee in this market, the vendor said. The French group expects CT to successfully develop the Carrefour brand in Indonesia and to enhance its position in the country.

A partnership agreement sealed in April 2010, gave CT a 40% interest in Carrefour Indonesia. Carrefour set foot on this market in 1998 and now has 84 outlets in the country, generating net sales of EUR1bn last year, it said.

Subject to securing anti-trust approvals in Indonesia, the deal is expected to wrap up in January 2013.

Carrefour runs 9,900 stores in 30 countries, claiming the top position among the European retailers and the second place in the global sector.

Asda grows UK market share to 17.5%

UK supermarket chain Asda reported today that its share of the UK grocery market has increased to 17.5%, up 0.1% year-on-year.

The retailer, which is owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) in the US, is currently the UK’s second-biggest supermarket chain, behind Tesco. Sainsbury’s is in third place and Morrisons is fourth.

Asda said today that it out-performed the market in the 13 weeks to 29 September, its fiscal third quarter, with like-for-like sales (excluding fuel and VAT) rising by 0.3%.

Chief executive and president Andy Clarke heralded the supermarket’s “solid results in a tough market” and said that Asda was continuing to “strike the right balance in terms of delivering low prices, great quality and unbeatable service”.

The company also noted that money is increasingly tight for customers, despite the UK emerging from recession in the third quarter.

Asda’s latest income tracker reveals that, after a period of slight improvement, disposable income is relatively flat this month.

Official figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirm that consumers are reigning in their spending. Overall retail sales decreased by 0.8% in October 2012, as shoppers cut back on purchases of food and clothing.

Tesco’s Turkish unit in talks to acquire a controlling stake in local grocer Uyum Gida

Tesco Kipa Kitle Pazarlama Ticaret ve Gida Sanayi AS (IST:KIPA), the Turkish subsidiary of British retailer Tesco Plc (LON:TSCO), is in preliminary discussions about buying a majority stake in Turkish grocer Uyum Gida ve Ihtiyac Maddeleri Sanayi VE Ticaret AS (IST:UYUM), the buyer said in a statement to the Istanbul Stock Exchange.

At the end of September, the target had 55 stores in the Marmara region of Turkey, most of which are located in Istanbul.

The announcement comes after in June 2011 Tesco Kipa’s CEO Paul Ritchie told Reuters that his company would look into acquisition opportunities when they emerged. Later, Uyum Gida unveiled a one-year confidentiality agreement with a foreign investment fund to consider options for the company. In July 2012 Turkish daily Vatan reported that the British retailer was interested in acquiring a majority stake in Uyum Gida, adding that Tesco was the main suitor for the Turkish firm.

Tesco made its first step into the Turkish market in 2003 when it bought five Kipa stores. At present it has 181 stores in 24 Turkish cities including Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Tesco Kipa generated revenues of GBP693m (USD1.1m/EUR863.4m) in fiscal 2011/12.

Founded in 1919, Tesco currently operates in 14 countries across Europe, Asia and North America, with over 500,000 employees. It engages in retailing books, clothing, electronics, furniture, petrol and software, as well as in providing financial services, telecoms and Internet services, DVD rental and music downloads.

Tesco to exit Japan via two-stage sale to domestic player Aeon

British retailer Tesco Plc (LON:TSCO) said on Monday it would sell 50% in its Japanese business to domestic sector player Aeon Co Ltd (TYO:8267) as part of a planned two-stage exit from this market.

Tesco said it would get a nominal price for the stake in Tesco Japan and will then create a joint venture with Aeon. Under the terms of the JV, the British supermarket giant would invest some GBP40m (USD63m/EUR49.4m) as a partner to fund additional restructuring at the business. After this move, Tesco would have no further financial exposure to the Japanese business or its operations, it said.

Tesco’s CEO, Philip Clarke, welcomed the transaction in a comment saying it would provide the best outcome for employees, Japanese customers and the group’s shareholders.

The British group, which unveiled plans to shed its Japanese business in 2001, said the completion of the deal is pending regulatory clearance.

Tesco Japan is made of 117 Tsurakame, Tesco and Tesco Express small stores located in the greater Tokyo area.

UK’s Tesco stepped into Japan in 2003 when it bought C2 Network, operating the Tsurakame branded stores.

Aeon runs more than 1,200 supermarkets in Japan. The group has 12 core retail businesses, which, apart from the supermarket operations, also include a general merchandise store business and strategic small size store business.

French retailer Carrefour exits Greece via sale of JV stake

French retail giant Carrefour SA (EPA:CA) announced on Friday it had agreed to sell its entire interest in its Greek joint venture to the Marinopoulos group, thus entrusting the management of operations to its JV partner.

With the reorganisation, the French company enables the joint entity to meet the challenges of the prevailing economic environment in Greece, it said. The venture, called Carrefour Marinopoulos, will also get the chance to bolster its business model and consolidate its leading position in the country, Marinopoulos Brothers SA president Leonidas Marinopoulos said.

As a result of the stake sale, Carrefour will incur a charge of around EUR220m (USD277.9m) under discontinued activities. Following the transfer of shares, the former JV will act as exclusive franchisee of the French retailer in Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria as well as in Albania and some other Balkan countries.

The transaction is awaiting antitrust clearance and is scheduled for completion in the coming weeks.

Carrefour is a distribution group which operates via four grocery store formats, more specifically hypermarkets, supermarkets, cash and carry and convenience stores. At present, the group has more than 9,500 stores, according to its website.

Tesco sales down again in UK market

UK-based supermarket retailer Tesco plc (LSE:TSCO) announced today a further decrease in quarterly sales in its home market.

The retail giant said that like-for-like sales in the UK, excluding petrol and VAT, declined by 1.5% in its first quarter ended 26 May 2012, compared with the same period last year.

Overall, Tesco’s group sales in the 13 weeks increased by 2.2% and the company said that it had performed “robustly” in the first quarter despite subdued consumer confidence in all of its markets.

Chief executive Philip Clarke confirmed that the retailer is focusing on the implementation of its six-point plan to revive its fortunes in the UK grocery sector, noting that the company has recently put extra staff into 700 of its stores and relaunched the Everyday Value range.

Tesco announced earlier this year that it would invest GBP1bn to improve the shopping trip for customers and lift results in its UK operations. So far a total of 4,300 additional new staff have been recruited and trained and they are working in fresh food and Beers, Wines & Spirits departments in every Extra and Superstore. In addition, more than 145,000 staff have been given specialist training relevant to their department.

According to Tesco the UK market remained very competitive in the quarter, with a significant amount of couponing activity. Nevertheless, directly after the quarter ended, in the run up to the Diamond Jubilee, Tesco recorded its biggest ever week outside the Christmas period with sales exceeding GBP1bn.

Further afield, the retailer saw continued growth in market share in 11 of its 12 international markets during its first quarter. At constant exchange rates, total sales grew by 9.1% in Asia and by 6.0% in Europe.

Tesco is currently performing in line with market expectations and the retailer’s outlook for the year as a whole remains unchanged.

For more on Tesco, click here.

Sainsbury’s reports growth in sales and market share in 2011

UK retailer J Sainsbury plc (LSE:SBRY) reported today a 6.8% increase in total sales for 2011 to GBP24.5bn and said that it outperformed the market and increased its market share.

Profit before tax fell 3.4% to GBP799m, but the company said that its underlying profit before tax showed an increase of 7.1% to GBP712m.

Over the course of the year Sainsbury’s saw its market share rise to 16.6%, which it said was the highest for nearly a decade.

Chief executive Justin King claimed that the company’s price perception on branded groceries is improving, driven by the introduction of Brand Match which reassures customers that they are paying either the same or less at Sainsbury’s for branded goods.

In addition to this, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference and Basics brands are both performing well and the company reported that these products appear side-by-side in many shopping baskets, showing that customers are saving on some items while treating themselves on others.

The other side of the supermarket business, general merchandise and clothing, is continuing to grow faster than the food business and is gaining market share. The retailer is developing its store estate, expanding its ability to offer non-food ranges, and now has 161 stores selling its larger non-food offering, 22 more than last year.

Sainsbury’s is also opening more smaller stores and during 2011 the company met its target of opening new convenience stores at a rate of one to two a week, with 73 to new stores taking the total to 440.

Many consumers are continuing to do more of their shopping from home and online grocery orders now exceed 165,000 a week, with an annual turnover of around GBP800m which places Sainsbury’s second in the market.

Beyond the company’s core operations, the pharmacy business is being expanded and Sainsbury’s Bank had a good year, recording a 40% increase in pre-tax operating profit.

The board of directors has proposed a final dividend of GBP0.116 to make a full-year dividend of GBP0.161, up 6.6% from last year’s dividend of GBP0.151.

Shoppers prefer bargain stores Aldi and Lidl

For the first time ever, budget stores Aldi and Lidl have beaten Marks and Spencers in an annual supermarket satisfaction report. Thanks to the appeal of their low prices and special offers.


A survey conducted by consumer group Which? revealed that for the third year running members placed Waitrose in first place, scoring 83 per cent praising both staff and products.


However, the big four supermarkets – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – failed to impress customers in comparison to Aldi and Lidl which came in second and third place, with Marks and Spencer’s falling to fourth place.


The budget stores were praised by customers for value and quality of fresh produce, one shopper involved in the survey said: “I’m a new Aldi shopper and it’s surpassed all expectation”.


The lowest joint score given went to Tesco and the Co-operative with a source of 46 per cent.


The Co-operative were awarded only two of out five stars on a range of subjects, which included customer service, own brand products and store environment.


A spokesman for the Co-operative said: “Clearly we are disappointed by these results, but we are working hard to modernise the business and are investing heavily in improving all aspects of our offer, including product quality and availability”.


Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which? said: “The tough economy and rising food prices have seen cash-strapped consumers heading to the discounters for their low prices and special offers”.


“Aldi and Lidl have climbed to second and third place this year, overtaking Marks and Spencer. And this doesn’t mean compromising on taste, as our tests show they sell a range of products that compete with the premium brands”.


A spokesman for Tesco said: “We’re disappointed and a little surprised by these results”.


“They don’t tally with our own measures of customer satisfaction on our experience in talking to some of the millions of people who shop in store and online with us every week”.


“We want to keep our customers happy and invest hugely in doing so, by offering great value, providing excellent quality products and by constantly developing new products and service to meet changing customer service demand”.


Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh