U.K. Grocery Sales Grow at Slowest Pace Since 2005, Kantar Says

The U.K.’s grocery market grew at the slowest pace in nine years in the past three months as shoppers tightened their belts after Christmas.

The market for grocery sales expanded 2.4 percent in the twelve weeks to Feb. 2, down from 2.9 percent growth in the previous three-month period, researcher Kantar Worldpanel said in a statement today. That’s the weakest growth since 2005, Kantar said. In the four weeks to Feb. 2, the grocery market grew 0.8 percent, down from 3.4 percent in the previous month, Citigroup Inc. said, citing Kantar data not publicly available.

Today’s figures show that “brighter economic prospects are yet to be seen in the nation’s shopping trolleys,” Fraser McKevitt, an analyst at Kantar Worldpanel, said in the statement.

Tight purses have helped Aldi and Lidl take market share from the big four supermarket chains as the German discounters are now considered an acceptable place for the weekly shopping trip, exacerbating the polarization in Britain’s shopping habits. At the other end, the more upmarket Waitrose Ltd. and J Sainsbury Plc (SBRY) also increased sales and gained share.

Tesco Plc’s (TSCO) sales declined 0.4 percent in the 12-week period, while Britain’s largest grocer’s market share dropped to 29.2 percent from 30 percent. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)’s Asda saw its market share dip to 17.3 percent from 17.7 percent, while William Morrison Supermarkets (MRW) Plc held 11.3 percent of the grocery market, down from 11.8 percent.

Sainsbury’s share rose to 17.1 percent from 17 percent, with Waitrose advancing to 4.9 percent from 4.8 percent. Aldi’s share surged to 4.1 percent from 3.2 percent, while fellow discounter Lidl’s rose to 3.2 percent from 2.8 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gabi Thesing in London at gthesing@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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