Blog: Dean BestKantar or Nielsen: who's right?

Dean Best | 14 September 2010

Analysing the UK grocery market is a interesting but complicated task - not least when there is so much debate over consumer confidence, whether we are heading for a double-dip recession and the extent of food inflation affecting the market.

Today (14 September), retail analysts at Kantar Worldpanel and Nielsen issued their latest sales figures for the UK's largest retailers.

Kantar, whose numbers for the 12 weeks to 5 September we reported on here, hinted that the market was seeing "premiumisation", with consumers putting more importance on freshness and quality. The trend, Kantar said, was benefiting the likes of Sainsbury's and Waitrose, while the more value-oriented Asda again saw its share of the UK grocery market fall.

Kantar, meanwhile, argued that discounter retailers "continued to languish behind the market", with only Lidl seeing its share of the market rise.

The message from Kantar was that UK retailers focusing less narrowly on price and more on quality were prospering.

However, a look at the numbers from Nielsen caused a little confusion.

Like Kantar, Nielsen's numbers, for the 12 weeks to 4 September, claimed Asda had lost market share but, in contrast to their Kantar counterparts, Nielsen number-crunchers suggested that, in fact, the discounters were enjoying a buoyant period.

"Along with Iceland, the discount retailers Aldi, Lidl and Netto have growths which are ahead of the top four grocery retailers over the last 12 weeks," Mike Watkins, senior manager for retailer services at Nielsen, argued.

"Increases have been driven by existing customers spending more when in store. All of the top four had fewer shoppers in August but an increased frequency of visit, which suggests the weather, promotion cherry picking and back to school visits have been the key drives over the summer. The competitive landscape is certainly getting tougher in the run up to Christmas."

It is, alas, getting tougher to decipher that competitive landscape in the UK.


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