Grocery sales slowed to +0.2% in the UK in the four weeks leading up to the start of December, as shoppers directed their spend towards Black Friday offers, according to Nielsen data.
In the corresponding four-week period last year, sales growth stood at 2.3%, the research firm noted.
During Black Friday week alone, supermarket sales were down 0.7%, 'suggesting that non-food bargain-hunting may have taken precedence with consumers over food and drink purchases', Nielsen said.
Grocery categories that performed strongest over the period included pet food/pet care (+1.6%) and crisps and snacks (+1.3%), however meat, fish and poultry (-2.2%) and household items (-2.1 %) both saw declines.
According to Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, however, things should pick up for UK grocers once the busy Christmas shopping period gets fully underway.
“Though it has been a disappointing start to Christmas, we must remember that around one third of shoppers never intended to start their Christmas grocery shopping until December," he said. "This means that there is still a strong chance that grocery sales will pick up pace, but this depends on how the crucial final two weeks of the year perform. A late surge in sales is quite possible this year as Christmas Eve falls on a Tuesday.”
Watkins also noted that shoppers are more likely to take advantage of various shopping channels this year; something retailers should be cognisant of.
"Though 44% of UK shoppers still intend to do the big Christmas shop in a physical store, only 7% expect to do the full shop online and the remainder will shop across both," he said. "Retailers must therefore ensure that offers stretch across both platforms in order to effectively reach consumers.”
© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.