U.K. Grocery Spend Begins Recovery Following Disappointing Spring and Early Summer
A man with his son in a grocery store

U.K. Grocery Spend Begins Recovery Following Disappointing Spring and Early Summer

Industry growth at U.K. supermarkets has finally improved to +1% in the last four weeks, after falling -0.5% in July

Total supermarket sales have started to recover, rising by +1% in the last four weeks, following a disappointing spring and early summer performance in which sales declined, falling to -0.5% in July. However, this growth still fails to reach the heights of summer 2018, in which grocery sales experienced a +4.2% uplift during the same period last year.

In the last four weeks, Nielsen data also reveals that shoppers have spent £85m more on own label products than this time last year¹, with volumes rising by 3% – compared with branded products, which declined by 2%. When it comes to own label, shoppers have bought more frozen foods (+7%), canned and packaged grocery items (+6%) and bakery products (+5%). This increase can be attributed to both increasing caution around spending and shifting promotional priorities.

We’re starting to see shopping behaviour return to normal with the increase in own label purchasing given their lower price points, whereas last year shoppers bought more branded products thanks to heavy promotions tied to the big event of summer 2018.

Over the last four weeks, Sainsbury’s experienced a +1.3% lift in sales, and was the only supermarket in the big four (Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Asda) to attract new shoppers helped by their accelerated efforts around targeted vouchering. Marks & Spencer also fared well during the last four weeks, experiencing an uplift of +1.4% with shoppers visiting more often, and this was supported by its new “Fresh Market Specials” campaign.

These uplifts are in stark contrast to the trend over the last 12 weeks, where discounters continued to show strong sales growth, with Lidl experiencing a +12.1% uplift, whilst Aldi rose by +9.5%. Whereas sales continued to decline at every other major supermarket, except Iceland.

It is promising to see that the grocery market has started to recover from the low growth which has been a consistent theme since Easter. These trends have largely been obfuscated by the weather and current value growth is still not in line with inflation, which the latest Consumer Price Index pegged at 2.1%. As a whole, the big four supermarkets are still continuing to lose market share.

12 weekly share of grocery market


¹ Nielsen Homescan FMCG, four weeks to 10.08.2019


The Nielsen continuous 14,500 GB household panel is geo-demographically balanced and designed to measure household purchasing through a wide range of channels. It includes all food and drink and non-food spend (e.g. household, personal care, clothing, electrical, cards and stationery, toys, music, general merchandise, etc.) It represents the total amount paid (after all coupons and vouchers), found on the till receipt.


Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide. Our approach marries proprietary Nielsen data with other data sources to help clients around the world understand what’s happening now, what’s happening next, and how to best act on this knowledge. For more than 90 years Nielsen has provided data and analytics based on scientific rigor and innovation, continually developing new ways to answer the most important questions facing the media, advertising, retail and fast-moving consumer goods industries. An S&P 500 company, Nielsen has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit