Black Friday failed to boost lacklustre sales across the grocery industry as the latest market share figures from Kantar show grocery sales growth slowing to 0.5% for the 12 weeks to 1 December.

Kantar found that amid the uncertainty of a General Election, a lacklustre Black Friday and a wet autumn, shoppers have been delaying their Christmas preparations and are waiting to stock up on festive supplies

On average consumers made one fewer visit to the shops over the past three months than this time last year.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, commented: “We’re yet to see consumers ramp up their spending in the run up to Christmas and, as anticipated, Black Friday only brought a limited boost for the grocers.”

“With the General Election now only days away, people are waiting to fill their cupboards for the festive break.”

The number of people claiming to take advantage of Black Friday this year fell to 53% from 57% in 2018 with signs of ‘promotion fatigue’ among consumers, an increased scepticism regarding the value of the deals on offer and some retailers pulling back from the day all together.

Only 5% of Black Friday deal hunters bought something from a grocer.

Each of the big four posted a sales decline in the period, with Tesco (TSCO) the best performer at -0.8% taking over from Sainsbury’s (SBRY) at -1.1%.

Sales at Asda fell 1.9% in the period, while Morrisons (MRW) experienced the biggest slowdown of any grocer in the sector with negative growth of 2.9%.

Lidl was the fastest growing physical grocer at 9.3%, with Aldi at 6.2% and the Co-op at 3.6%.

Ocado continued to be the fastest growing overall grocer, with sales 13.7% higher than this time in 2018. The online retailer was particularly popular with Londoners and its market share in the capital is now 2.6%, almost double its level of 1.4% nationally.

Grocery inflation now stands at 0.8% for the 12-week period ending 1 December 2019. Prices have been rising since the 12 weeks to 1 January 2017.

Meanwhile, Nielsen found grocery sales continue to slow to just 0.2% in the last four weeks, as shoppers seek to delay spend ahead of the busy seasonal Black Friday shopping period.

This shortfall in growth is a significant drop in comparison to the same period last year, which stood at 2.3%, and can in part be attributed to the busy Black Friday sales period. Cautious shoppers were likely switching spend away from the weekly grocery shop to take advantage of the offers available, Nielsen said.

However, this year shoppers are forecast to spend around £7.2bn at the major supermarkets in the two weeks to 28th December, a slight increase over last year, which will account for just under 21% of all food retail sales during the ‘Golden Quarter’.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK Head of retailer and business Insight, said: “Though it has been a disappointing start to Christmas, we must remember that around one third³ of shoppers never intended to start their Christmas grocery shopping until December. 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.”

Moring update

The Just Eat (JE) board has rejected an improved 740p per share offer from Dutch/South African group Prosus, instead urging investors to back its prospecetive merger with

Prosus yesterday improved its offer to 740p per share from its previous offer of 710p per share.

However, Just Eat said the new offer still “significantly undervalues Just Eat and its attractive assets and prospects both on a standalone basis and as part of the proposed recommended all-share combination with”.

“The Prosus Offer fails to reflect appropriately the quality of Just Eat and its attractive assets and prospects, the benefits of first mover advantage in a consolidating sector, and, on the basis of its own analysis, the future upside available to Just Eat shareholders through remaining invested in Just Eat and the combination,” the group stated.

Just Eat said the offer represents a premium of only 16% to Just Eat’s undisturbed price of 635.6p on 26 July 2019 (the last business day before the date on which and Just Eat announced a possible all-share combination) and is a discount of 5% to Just Eat’s closing price of 777p on 6 December 2019.

The Just Eat board unanimously recommended that shareholders reject the offer and and said the combination will deliver greater value creation to Just Eat shareholders.

Prosus has set a deadline of 27 December for Just Eat shareholders to accept the new offer.

Convenience retailer McColl’s (MCLS) has posted a trading update for the 52 week period ended 24 November 2019.

Total revenues in the year fell 1.9%, which the chain said reflected “store divestments as we progress with our store optimisation programme”.

Total like-for-like sales moved back to level for the year, having fallen by 1.4% in 2018.

Adjusted EBITDA for FY19 expected to be £32m, which McColl’s said is marginally below expectations as a result of softer market conditions in the second half due to unseasonable weather and lower consumer confidence.

It said it had made continued operational progress with improved on-shelf availability and advancement of category review programme, while it is also trialling new propositional enhancements including a scalable food-to-go format, last-mile delivery with Uber Eats and improved customer segmentation of the estate.

The group has also strengthened leadership team in the period with the appointment of Robbie Bell as CFO and Richard Crampton as chief commercial officer.

CEO Jonathan Miller commented: “While 2019 has been another challenging year for the business, we have made good progress against our goals of operational stability and good retail execution. We are also pleased to confirm that we have continued to reduce net debt, with further progress anticipated due to our ongoing capital discipline.

“The fundamentals of the convenience channel are strong and we remain a resilient, profitable and cash generative business. We are confident in our plans to rebuild momentum in 2020, and look forward to providing a fuller strategy update at our Preliminary Results in February.”

Premier Foods (PFD) has announced the permanent appointment of Duncan Leggett as Chief Financial Officer.

He joined Premier Foods in 2011, becoming a member of the executive leadership team on his appointment as Acting CFO in August 2019. Prior to this, he was director of financial control and corporate development, having previously held a number of senior roles within finance. Before joining the company, he spent nine years at KPMG working with clients across a variety of industries.

CEO Alex Whitehouse said: “Duncan’s extensive technical knowledge and experience of our business makes him an invaluable member of our Executive Leadership Team, so I am delighted to appoint him permanently as CFO and welcome him onto the Board. With this added business continuity, I look forward to continuing our work together as we increase our pace of delivery and ever sharpen our consumer, customer and operational focus.”

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has opened down 0.9% to 7,165.6pts as the City awaits UK GDP data for October.

McColl’s has fallen 3.3% to 40p on this morning’s update, while Morrisons poor performance in the market share figures has sent its shares down 2.1% to 199.5p. SSP Group (SSPG) is down 2% to 641p and Coca-Cola HBC (CCH) is down 1.2% to 2,480p.

Risers so far include McBride (MCB), up 2.7% to 82.9p, Ocado (OCDO), up 1.9% to 1,227p and Tesco (TSCO), up 0.8% to 245p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 started the week flat, ending the day down less than 0.1% at 7,233.9pts.

Tesco (TSCO) ended the day up 4.7% to 243.1p after weekend rumours it is considering the sale of its businesses in Thailand and Malaysia after potential buyers had expressed interest.

Other retailers on the up included Marks & Spencer (MKS), up 3.5% to 208.3p, B&M European Value Retail (BME), up 2.3% to 396.2p and Sainsbury’s (SBRY), up 1.6% to 223.5p.

Other risers included Eagle Eye Solutions, up 8.1% to 179.5p, Bakkavor, up 2.9% to 142.4p, AG Barr (BAG), up 2.6% to 564p and McBride (MCB), up 1.8% to 80.7p.

Yesterday fallers included Glanbia (GLB), down 2.7% to €10.63, Premier Foods (PFD), down 2.5% to 39p, Cake Box (CAKE), down 2.1% to 164.5p and Stock Spirits Group (STCK), down 1.5% to 200.5p.

Other fallers included Compass Group (CPG), down 1.4% to 1,827.5p, Ocado (OCDO), down 1.3% to 1,204.5p and FeverTree (FEVR), down 1.3% to 2,126p.