Grocery shoppers’ “recession panic” is receding as Waitrose, famed for its emphasis on quality, powers ahead, while the growth of the discounters falters, according to TNS Worldpanel.

The consumer research group said Waitrose’s sales expanded 10.2 per cent in the 12 weeks to August 9, well ahead of the grocery sector average of 5.6 per cent. At the other end of the price spectrum, the expansion of the so-called hard discounters, such as Aldi and Lidl, is losing momentum.

“Taking the contrasting performances of Waitrose and the discounters together implies that recession panic is abating as far as the grocery sector is concerned,” said Ed Garner, director of research.

TNS group said Waitrose’s expansion was being driven by the introduction of its first ever value range – essential Waitrose – together with the conversion of stores acquired from Somerfield.

As for the discounters, TNS said its data showed that the new shoppers attracted to these outlets by their low prices had “largely failed to convert to regular loyal customers”.

Aldi’s growth of 8.1 per cent is still ahead of the market but it is a fraction of the chain’s expansion of 26 per cent at the end of last year. The German discounter last week parted company with Paul Foley, its UK managing director.

When it came to the big four supermarkets, TNS said the growth rates of Asda, J Sainsbury and Wm Morrison were all outstripping that of Tesco.

Tesco’s market share fell slightly from 31.2 per cent in the 12 weeks to August 10 2008 to 31 per cent in the comparable period this year. Asda’s market share increased from 16.7 per cent to 17.2 per cent, Sainsbury’s from 15.6 per cent to 15.9 per cent and Morrisons’ from 11 per cent to 11.4 per cent.

Tesco’s fight to catch up with its faster-growing rivals has been underlined by its doubling-up of the rewards earned by holders of its Clubcard, although the UK’s biggest retailer has denied the move is a knee-jerk reaction to the continued progression of its smaller adversaries.

TNS also revealed that food inflation had slowed. Grocery price inflation stood at 5.1 per cent for the 12 weeks to August 9, the lowest level since the peak of 9.2 per cent last October.

Mr Garner said that did not mean prices were falling. Instead, they were rising more slowly.

Get alerts on Food & Beverage when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Comments have not been enabled for this article.

Follow the topics in this article