Morrisons Aldershot

Morrisons spent moe than its rivals on advertising in the four weeks to 12 Oct

The major supermarkets’ overall spend on advertising increased 14% year-on-year to a total of £28.3m for the four weeks ending 12 October 2013, new figures have revealed.

Morrisons was the highest-spending retailer, splashing £5m on TV and press coverage, closely followed by Tesco (£4m) and Asda (£3.7m), according to the research from Nielsen.

Iceland, which recently launched a new ‘romantic’ storyline for its television adverts, had the biggest year-on-year spend increase (rising 426% to £2.2m) – putting it ahead of The Co-operative (which was itself up 167% to £2.1m).

However, despite an industry-wide investment in advertising, overall supermarket sales were up just 1.8% year-on-year, while volume fell 1.9%, Nielsen said. Of the big four, only Sainsbury’s posted a significant rise in sales - up 3.5% year-on-year, compared to 0.3% for Tesco, 0.6% for Asda, and 0.1% for Morrisons.

“The weak sales growths during this period are indicative of consumers being reluctant, unwilling or unable to spend – despite their slightly more optimistic outlook in recent months,” said Mike Watkins, head of insight for UK retail at Nielsen.

“Consequently, to encourage sales, in-store promotional spend is being maintained at 35% of sales, with particularly high levels at Waitrose (41%) and Morrisons (40%).”

Confectionery and soft drinks saw the strongest growths of any category, increasing by 8.6% and 4.9% respectively.