Britain’s grocery sales lack festive spirit

98 percent of Britons visited a big four supermarket — Dave Lewis’ (below) Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda — in the past three months. Reuters Tesco Group Chief Executive, Dave Lewis speaks at an analyst presentation in London, Britain, April 12, 2017. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 December 2019

Britain’s grocery sales lack festive spirit

  • Sales of popular Christmas food purchases are down compared with last year

LONDON: Sales growth at Britain’s supermarkets slowed in the last quarter, industry data showed on Tuesday, as shoppers delayed their festive season preparations ahead of a national election on Dec. 12. 

Market researcher Kantar said all of Britain’s big four supermarket groups — market leader Tesco, Sainsbury’s , Asda and Morrisons — recorded sales declines over the period and lost market share to the German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl which are aggressively opening new stores. Kantar said total British grocery sales rose 0.5 percent year-on-year in the 12 weeks to Dec. 1, having increased 1 percent in its November data set. 

“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,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar. 

“With the general election now only days away, people are waiting to fill their cupboards for the festive break,” he said, noting, for example, that sales of Christmas puddings and seasonal biscuits are down 16 percent and 12 percent in the past four weeks, compared with this time last year. Kantar said sales at Tesco fell 0.8 percent over the period, while Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Morrisons saw sales declines of 1.1 percent, 1.9 percent and 2.9 percent respectively. 

In contrast Aldi’s sales were up 6.2 percent and Lidl’s rose 9.3 percent, giving a combined market share of 14.1 percent. 

“While the big four all lost share in the past 12 weeks, 98 percent of the British public still visited at least one of their stores during the past three months,” said McKevitt. “Based on previous years, we expect them to increase their proportion of sales in the coming weeks as shoppers turn to familiar favourites and the traditional retailers in December.” 

Kantar said it was too early to say if Tesco’s new “Clubcard Plus” loyalty subscription scheme, launched last month, has had an impact on sales. Shares in Britain’s big supermarket chain were all down in early trade in London.


At Davos, innovative products point to a sustainable future

Updated 24 January 2020

At Davos, innovative products point to a sustainable future

  • A single tree that to bear 40 different types of apple

DAVOS: The World Economic Forum is not all about the fourth industrial revolution or the rise of AI.

You can also find all manner of strange and intriguing products on display from biodegradable plastic made from algae to wallpaper made from recycled corn husks.

One stand titled “How do you design a tree?” is part of a conservation effort where a single tree is designed to bear 40 different types of apple.

Another stand displays colored seaweed on a rack, showing how clothes can be dyed in a sustainable, non-chemically corrosive manner.

Propped along a large wall is Fernando Laposse’s wallpaper made of variations of purple corn husks that are reinforced with recycled cardboard and cork to create wallpaper and furniture. The husks come from corn that needs very little water and can be grown in the desert, which makes it all the more sustainable.

“This initiative helps the local economy as it brings in jobs and a resurgence of crafts and food traditions while also ensuring sustainability,” Laposse said.

Another display shows a machine that extracts pellets from a mixture of algae and starch and is used to create a thread that is the base of 3D printing. These sustainable, biodegradable plastics made from algae are being experimented with in different regions.

With the rise of deep fakes — a branch of synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness — another stand delivers a warning on the looming dangers of unregulated software.

The Davos forum prides itself on its sustainability, and key topics have included climate, mobility, energy and the circular economy. Everything is recyclable, and participants must download an application in order to keep up with the program and any changes — a move to cut down on paper waste.