Two sets of data arrived in The Grocer’s inbox this afternoon.

As ever, Kantar’s latest offered a mixed bag for retailers. Sainsbury’s added to the momentum generated by those impressive quarterly results unveiled last week. The Holborn outfit upped its market share over the three months to 3 October by 0.4%, making it the standout performer among the major mults.

The loser, in terms of market share, was Asda, although its rate of decline eased. Morrisons and Tesco were unchanged.

The other set of figures, from Nielsen, represent sobering reading for every retailer.

Headline growth of 4% year-on-year sounds healthy enough. But with the bulk of that driven by inflation and volumes up just 0.4%, the mults’ reliance on promotions for growth has been laid bare.

Deals now represent 37% of total sales. Thirty-seven. That’s the highest ever. And it comes despite recent promises from the usual deal-junkies to wean themselves off the habit.

“We saw unprecedented high levels of promotions in our stores last November as the Christmas sales push peaked at just over 36%, but this month’s figures top even that,” says Nielsen’s Mike Watkins.

And as Christmas 2010 looms, that percentage is only going to go one way. With all the mults upping their promotions, Watkins argues, “double loyalty points and money-off voucher schemes are no longer the differentiators they were”.

“It will be worrying to those in the industry to see negligible volume growths coming out of a month where we have seen huge levels of fmcg promotions,” says Watkins.

‘Worrying’ is probably an understatement. As he notes: “It’s almost a case of running hard to stand still.”

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