Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)’s Asda chain advanced its business faster than the U.K. grocery market for the first time since the start of 2010 in the past three months as supermarkets battled to win shoppers with price offers.
Spending at Asda stores rose 5.1 percent in the three months ended Oct. 30, according to figures released today by Kantar Worldpanel. The figure was boosted by the inclusion of former Netto stores converted to Asda outlets following their acquisition last year. The overall grocery market expanded by 4.6 percent in the period, trailing inflation of 6.1 percent.
Asda started an online price-check campaign last month in response to larger competitor Tesco Plc (TSCO)’s “Big Price Drop” program on 3,000 essential items and J Sainsbury Plc (SBRY)’s “Brand Match” promotion. The Netto conversions meant sales at the unit fell 85 percent as store numbers declined, giving a combined increase of 1.7 percent, Kantar’s data showed. Spending at Tesco and Sainsbury stores rose 4.1 percent in the last three months.
“As shoppers try to control their budgets, an aggressive stance on price is driving retailer communication strategies,” Kantar director Edward Garner said in a statement. “The end result would appear to be a zero-sum game, as the performances from the big four show only marginal differences this period.”
Asda’s market share was steady at 17.2 percent, while Tesco and Sainsbury both slipped 0.1 percentage point from a year earlier to 30.5 percent and 16.1 percent, respectively. William Morrison Supermarkets Plc boosted its share 0.1 percentage point to 11.8 percent.
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