Although the UK's grocery retail market has become highly defensive and competition remains fierce, the sector's top-line growth of 6% year-on-year shines out against the depressed results reported by other retail sectors, according to the latest TNS Worldpanel grocery market share figures.
The field is led by supermarket giant Tesco with 30.7% of the country's grocery sales market share, followed by Asda (16.9%), Sainsbury's (16.2%), Morrisons (11.9%), Waitrose (3.7%), Somerfield (3.5%), Aldi (3.2%), Lidl (2.4%), and Iceland (2.0%).
According to Ed Garner, director of research for TNS Worldpanel, "It's interesting to compare the 4 weeks ending 28th December 2008 with the previous month. Both Sainsbury's and Waitrose outperformed the market - as they traditionally do - and premium private labels outperformed their value-based counterparts. So in the face of a savage consumer downturn, the grocery sector at least had reason to celebrate Christmas."
Tesco continued to see its market share come under pressure with a drop to 30.7% from 31.3% one year before. However, both Asda and Morrisons continued their strong runs with growths of 7.2% and 9.7% respectively, outperforming the market and therefore lifting their market shares to 16.9% for Asda and a record 11.9% for Morrisons.
Sainsbury's continued to see its share hold steady in the face of pressure on premium retailers (for example, Waitrose's share dropped from 3.9% to 3.7%). Sainsbury's Basics range is clearly helping the supermarket to maintain the balance between premium and value markets.
Strong performance for the discounters and freezer centres has become a feature of the current trading climate, and Christmas 2008 was particularly good for Aldi, which showed a record market share of 3.2%.
Finally, the UK's grocery price inflation figure continued to fall back, having dropped to 8.3% - the third successive drop from the peak of 9.3% seen for the 12 weeks ending 5th October 2008.