Supermarket sales growth fastest for three years

Supermarket sales have increased at their fastest rate in nearly three years, with all the main grocers except Asda enjoying growth.

Grocery sales grew by 2.3 per cent in the 12 weeks to February 26, compared with the same time last year, the biggest increase since June 2014.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, which compiles the figures, said that price inflation accounted for part of the growth because the fall in the pound had increased the price of imported food.

Staples such as butter, tea and fish have increased in price by more than 5 per cent in the past 12 weeks and fruit and vegetables, many of which are imported, have also gone up.

“Like-for-like inflation has doubled since last month to stand at 1.4 per cent in 12 weeks. However, in their longer-term context, these price increases are still fairly minimal,” Mr McKevitt said. “It’s important to point out that inflation is far from universal, with prices falling across a number of categories, including crisps, bacon and eggs.”

Data from Mysupermarket, the groceries price comparison website, found that an average basket of 35 items increased from £82.15 to £82.27 last month.

The supermarkets are battling it out, according to Kantar Worldpanel, with Tesco increasing sales for the sixth period in a row. Although this is a run Britain’s biggest grocer hasn’t experienced since January 2014, it wasn’t enough to stop Tesco’s market share slipping by 0.5 percentage points to 27.9 per cent.

WM Morrison grew ahead of the market, with a sales increase of 2.6 per cent, its fastest growth in five years, and J Sainsbury returned to growth for the first time since last March, with sales up by 0.3 per cent. Only Asda recorded a decline in sales — of 0.8 per cent — but this was a big improvement on previous quarters and its best showing since November 2014.

Lidl was the fastest-growing supermarket with sales growth of 13 per cent. Aldi grew sales by 12.9 per cent to reach a record market share of 6.3 per cent. Iceland, the Co-op and Waitrose all increased sales, by 8.8 per cent, 1.7 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively

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