UK’s “big four” supermarkets all post drop in sales

All of the UK’s “big four” supermarket chains posted a drop in sales over the last 12 weeks.

Asda posted the biggest loss and lost its place as the UK’s second largest grocer – to Sainsbury’s.

Sales at Asda dropped 2.7 percent through July 19, according to the latest Kantar Wordpanel monthly report. Its market share fell to 16.4 per​cent from 17.0 per​​cent in the same period last year.

Revenue at London-based Sainsbury’s fell 0.3 percent (not nearly as bad as Asda’s decline) making it the UK’s second largest grocer. Sainsbury’s now has a market share of 16.5 percent.

​​Fraser McKevitt, Kantar Worldpanel’s head of consumer and retail insight, said:

“​All this year the share gap between Asda and Sainsbury’s has been very close.

​“Asda will be the number three retailer and won’t be happy about it, but they could easily​ change position again.

“Asda is run slightly differently to other retailers. They’re not listed in the UK and they are not chasing share at any cost, but are trying to run the business profitably.”

An Asda spokesperson commented:

“We’re going through one of the toughest trading periods to face UK supermarkets, so it comes as no surprise that industry figures continue to be volatile from month to month. As a strong and balanced business we remain focused on our long term strategy for building a sustainable business over the coming years. We won’t make knee jerk decisions because of the short-term picture.”

According to Kantar, market leader Tesco’s sales dropped 0.6 percent over the 12 week period, while Morrisons performed the best among the big four grocers, with sales down 0.1 percent​ – after a 0.1 percent rise in the 12 weeks to May 24​.

Mr McKevitt commented on whether Morrisons’ vouchering is sustainable. He said:

“We do know that vouchers that encourage loyalty do work with shoppers. Most people have a lot of choice where to shop. It seems like a sensible thing to do.

“Morrisons has had a lot of success with vouchers and it is doing the best of the big stores, but sales are still down 0.1 per cent.

“The unstoppable rise of Aldi and Lidl hasn’t changed. The bigger retailers are struggling to stem the tide.”

All of the UK’s “big four” supermarkets have been slashing prices and cutting costs to try and win back consumers that have flocked to fast-growing discounters.

Sales at the discount supermarket chain Aldi ​climbed up 16.6 per​cent, while Lidl ​reported growth of ​​11.3 per​​cent​, increasing their market shares to a record 5.6 per​cent​ ​and 4.0 per​cent respectively.