By James Davey
LONDON – Britons are shifting to cheaper food alternatives in their supermarket shopping as they try to navigate a worsening cost of living crisis, industry data showed on Tuesday.
Market researcher NielsenIQ said that over the four weeks to June 18 sales of frozen poultry rose 12% year-on-year, sales of rice and grains increased 11%, canned beans and pasta were up 10%, gravy/stock up 9%, canned meat up 9% and dry pasta up 31%.
In contrast, sales of beers, wines and spirits, still affected by the slow reopening of the hospitality industry a year ago, fell 9.7%, while general merchandise sales fell 6.1% as shoppers trimmed discretionary spending.
“Shoppers are starting to make different choices in how to compensate for their rising cost of living. For some households, the way to save money is to buy cheaper products,” Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight said.
He noted that for the 15% of households who now consider themselves to be “strugglers”, almost a quarter of this cohort will stop buying certain products altogether and 28% will shop more at German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl.
The researcher said total grocery sales at UK supermarkets rose 1.5% on a value basis over the four week period year-on-year, boosted by the queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and a spell of hot sunny weather. However, sales fell 5.5% on a volume basis.
Over the four weeks store visits grew 7%, an extra 31 million trips, the market researcher said.
In contrast online sales fell 12% compared with last year, with almost half a million fewer online shoppers than in June 2021.
This meant the online share of grocery sales reduced to 11.3% from 11.7% in May and 13.1% a year ago.
Market leader Tesco was the only one of Britain’s traditional big four supermarket groups to grow sales on a value basis over the 12 weeks to June 18. They were up 0.4% year-on-year.
Aldi and Lidl were the fastest growing food retailers, with their combined market share hitting 19.1%.
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Richard Pullin)