Supermarkets jump to best sales performance in 2010

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Sales across UK supermarkets increased by over 3% in the last month, the first time this year the sector has seen such growth over a four week period.


The results, released by Nielsen, are an indication that consumer confidence is returning to the high street.


It Scantrack data showed that for the four weeks to May 15 sales across the multiple grocers were up 3.1%. This, however, was not repeated across the grocery retail sector with all channels reporting a more subdued 2.5% growth.


Mike Watkins, senior manager retailer services at Nielsen said: "With low but still manageable food inflation feeding into sales since Easter, we can be reasonably confident that we have passed the low point in terms of year on year growth but shoppers still need to be encouraged to spend.


"Shoppers remain fickle and disloyal and are still shifting to retailers who offer the most immediate savings. As a result promotional spend has been maintained at 35%. The exception being Asda where spend on offer has fallen a little over the last 8 weeks."


Nielsen data also shows that shoppers are again cutting down the number of shopping trips they make with 1% fewer trips having been made across the grocery market in the four weeks to May 15 compared to the same period in 2009. Marks & Spencer, however, bucked the trend with a 9% increase in the number of average visits per household made to its stores which Nielsen puts down to demand for its 'Dine In' promotions.

Watkins added: "Cutting down on the number of trips made is a trend we saw at the outset of the recession when inflation was very high. Our consumer confidence survey saw rising fuel prices top the list of growing consumer concerns and this could account for fewer, but larger (+3.7% spend per visit), shopping trips being made."


Other Nielsen highlights include:
* Tesco - is achieving the highest growth in spend per visit in the latest four weeks with shoppers spending an average of just over &33 per visit.


* Asda - had a stronger four weeks after a four month low with more price cuts, single price promotions and the 'Asda Price Guarantee' messaging all working together to build performance. Asda retains its position of highest spend per visit at an average of &35 spent per visit, suggesting the retailer is still a destination shop for big basket spends.


* Sainsbury's - of the top four retailers Sainsbury's is attracting more new shoppers (+1.8%) than any other with just under 40% of households visiting a Sainsbury's in the four weeks to May 15. Growth in household penetration will have contributed to the retailer's respectable 5% YoY sales growth which were seen in the latest 12 weeks and maintained in the latest four weeks.


* Morrison's - is also bucking the market trend and are achieving an increase in shopper visits (+2.7%) following some strong promotions on fresh foods.


* Others - Iceland is increasing penetration more than any other retailer at +12% and Waitrose also, has continued to attract new shoppers (+7.3%). Co-op is successfully converting Somerfield shoppers to Co-op shoppers with households visiting a Co-op growing almost 10% in the latest four weeks.


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