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UK supermarkets posted double-digit growth in March, but sales growth continues to lag food price inflation, according to new grocery market share figures.

Data from NIQ (previously known as NielsenIQ) found total till value sales rose 11.5% in the four weeks to 25 March – up from 11.1% in February – as food inflation soared to 15%.

UK supermarkets saw a 7% increase in shopping visits to stores, with a 13% uplift in spend in-store compared to the same time last year.

However, over the four week period, volume sales across the grocery multiples fell 3.9%.

While this is an improving trend, it still indicates that spend is continuing to shift to the discounter channels, with Aldi and Lidl’s combined growth continuing to be above 20%.

Aldo and Lidl grew by 24.7% and 22.2% respectively over the 12 week period, taking their combined market share to 22.1%.

Market leader Tesco was up 8.6%, Asda 8.5% and Sainsbury’s 7.8%, while Morrisons was flat.

Elsewhere, Marks & Spencer showed strong 11.9% growth, while Iceland was up 9.5%, Co-op up 7.1% and Waitrose gained a more modest 2.2%.

Data from NIQ reveals that across all grocery channels, shoppers spent £2.8bn in the week ending 18th March - this is £168m more than last Mothering Sunday (+6.4%), with key categories being cut flowers (+5.8%) and chocolate gift boxes (+16.8%) showing that despite the cost of living crisis, there was a willingness to spend more for this event with positive unit growth for both.

Mike Watkins, NIQ’s UK Head of Retailer and Business Insight, said: “Our recent survey indicates that during a period of high inflation, shoppers are looking for different ways to save money and loyalty card savings are a ‘win-win’ strategy as they reward both shoppers and retailers. They give meaningful savings, shoppers prefer the immediacy of the discount and they are a promotional mechanic likely to influence where they shop, while also encouraging category purchasing.”

“Sales should rally this week for Easter (against pre-Easter week last year), and sales at the grocery retailers could top £3bn this week, achieving growth in excess of 20% which will be welcome news for retailers. Over the next four weeks, supermarkets should also be able to maximise the ‘little and often’ purchasing shopping trend over the Bank Holidays in May, which also includes the King’s Coronation weekend.”

Watkins concludes: “Whilst inflation greatly influences shopping behaviour, there is an expectation that we will hit ‘peak inflation’ in the new couple of months. If this happens, the big supermarkets are well placed to fulfil new and different mission-based shopping trips. This is helped by having different store formats, as well as the breadth of ranges, typically not available at a discounter. All of this should help volume sales to eventually return to growth after over a year of decline.”

Morning update

Cake Box has announced its new CFO Michael Botha will join the group next week.

On 21 October 2022, the retailer of fresh cream cakes, announced the appointment of as Botha as CFO.

It has now confirmed he will Michael Botha will join Cake Box on 11 April 2023. On the same day, he will also join the Board of directors as an executive director.

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is up 0.2% to 7,685.5pts this morning.

Risers include Nichols, up 2.5% to 1,137.2p, Glanbia, up 2.2% to €13.80 and Virgin Wines, up 2% to 39.8p.

Fallers so far today include Wynnstay, down 1.9% to 431.5p, PayPoint, down 1.2% to 454.9p and Just Eat, up 0.6% to 1,493p. 

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 started the week up 0.5% to 7,673pts.

Risers included THG, up 2.7% to 69.3p, Imperial Brands, up 2.3% to 1,907p, Coca-Cola HBC, up 1.4% to 2,244p, PayPoint, up 1.2% to 460.5p, British American Tobacco, up 1.1% to 2,872.5p, Deliveroo, up 1.1% to 92.5p and Unilever, up 1% to 2,232.5p.

Fallers included Naked Wines, down 3.4% to 99p, Just Eat, down 2.7% to 1,502p, Hotel Chocolat, down 2.2% to 181.5p, Ocado, down 2.1% to 524p, Kerry Group, down 1.8% to 90.4p and Nichols, down 1.8% to 1,110p.