M&S Fastest Growing Food Retailer In Christmas Quarter – KamCity – Namnews
Marks & Spencer’s food division continued its strong run during the key Christmas period, growing significantly faster than the Big Four supermarkets and outperforming the discounters.
Data for NielsenIQ shows M&S’s grocery sales soared 9.4% in the 12 weeks to 1 January, aided by weaker comparatives than its rivals and shoppers treating themselves to more premium products over the Christmas period.
As part of its ongoing turnaround plan, M&S has worked to broaden the appeal of its food range with more products and family-orientated ranges. A shift towards lower prices has also helped the business gain market share as people used the retailer from bigger grocery shops. The group has also benefited from its online joint venture with Ocado.
M&S publishes its own third-quarter trading update on Thursday with some analysts predicting it could upgrade its 2021/22 profit outlook again following the upgrade in November last year.
The NielsenIQ research shows Lidl (+8.5%) and Aldi (+4.8%) both performed well over the period, buoyed by their new store opening programmes. Sales fell slightly at Tesco (-0.1%) and Waitrose (-0.2%) against tough comparatives with last year’s bumper trading but both gained market share.
Sales fell significantly at Sainsbury’s (-4.2%), Asda (-3.1%), and Morrisons (-5.6%), and all three lost market share.
Meanwhile, NielsenIQ’s data shows shoppers in the UK spent a total of £7.1bn in the two weeks ending 25 December, with weekly sales growth peaking at 14.8%. This figure exceeds previous forecasts, in which sales were predicted to grow to £6.8bn, up from £6.7bn in 2020.
Total Till grocery sales across the four weeks ending 1 January 2022 grew by 1.0%. This was described as an impressive growth rate against strong comparatives in 2020, where sales had grown 8% in anticipation of a full lockdown from 4 January 2021.
NielsenIQ figures show online shopping visits fell 1.7% over the four week period whilst in-store visits grew 6.3% as consumers continued to embrace an omnichannel shopping mindset.
Meanwhile, consumers spent £14bn on Christmas categories at supermarkets, an increase of 8.7% compared with pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Soft drinks were a winning category, with growth of 14.5% compared with 2019, and up 9.4% in 2020. Sales of fresh oriental ready meals grew by 20%, whilst sales of vegetarian burgers were up 19% as shoppers sought alternatives to traditional festive food.
As people were able to get together over the Christmas period, there was also a surge in snacking and party food, with chilled baguettes (+18%), fresh trifle (+8%) and fresh sausage rolls (+7%) increasing in sales in the four week period ending 1 January 2022. Moreover, sales for chocolate confectionery were up 8%, with shoppers spending an estimated £380m in this category over the same period.
Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s UK Head of Retailer and Business Insight, commented: “Omnichannel purchasing, shopping around, and entertaining at home were the big shopping trends over the festive period. All retailers had more shoppers than this time last year and most had more visits, even if spend per visit was a little lower at just over £21. British consumers are continuing to adopt an omnichannel approach and whilst online allows them to plan ahead, shoppers are increasingly heading in-store for a regular weekly shop as well as for last-minute purchases and we can expect this behaviour to continue.”
Watkins concluded: “It was a good Christmas for food retailers with overall performance in line with expectations in the last three months, and against some very tough comparatives last December and in a very competitive retail environment. Shoppers were willing to buy the extra Christmas indulgences and temporarily put aside their concerns about the rising cost of living.
“Looking ahead, consumers are facing significantly higher energy, travel and other household costs so it’s likely that shoppers will look to make savings on their weekly food shop by managing budgets. We may see them buying what they need when they need it, wasting less fresh food, and steering clear of unnecessary cupboard stocking. This would give added momentum to the return of the ‘little and more often’ macro trend we are anticipating as we hopefully leave behind the pandemic shopping behaviour in the new year.”