‘Dry January’ retail booze boost, as Aldi becomes UK’s fifth largest grocer

Beer and wine sales saw a boost despite ‘Dry January’, according to the latest Kantar Worldpanel data, as Aldi became the UK’s fifth largest grocer.

Sales of beer increased by 4% over 12 weeks to 29 January 2017, with wine up by 1% over the same period, according to Kantar Worldpanel’s head of retail and consumer insight, Fraser McKevitt, who noted that “a dry January was certainly not on the cards for many of us”.

However it is unclear how much of the BWS uplift was due to the strong Christmas sales enjoyed by the retailers – when alcohol was one of the biggest winning categories with sales up 5.7%, according to Nielsen – and how much has been driven by promotional activity throughout January to counter the possible effect of consumers shunning the BWS aisles.

It came as the retail and consumer analysts also announced that Aldi has overtaken The Co-op to become the UK’s fifth largest grocer, for the first time.

The discounter saw a 12.4% year-on-year sales boost, which helped its market share by 0.6 percentage points to 6.2%, ahead of The Coop’s 6% market share.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, noted the rapid expansion of the discounter, which has gone from tenth place a decade ago, when it had less than 2% of the grocery market. “Since then the grocer has grown rapidly, climbing the rankings by an impressive five places to hold a 6.2% market share. Underpinned by an extensive programme of store openings, the past quarter has seen Aldi attract 826,000 more shoppers than during the same period last year,’ he said.

Overall, the picture for the latest 12 weeks was good with eight out of nine retailers recording sales growth.

Despite being overtaken by Aldi, The Co-op saw a 2% boost, or £1,656 million of sales, well ahead of the market 1.7% growth, driven by strong own-label growth, McKevitt said. Waitrose also saw good growth of 3.4%, while Lidl and Iceland also saw growth, of 9.4% and 8.6% respectively. Lidl now enjoys a 4.5% share of the market, up 0.3 percentage points.

At the top of the retail market, Morrisons was the fastest growing of the big four, seeing a 1.9% bump on the back of its own-label growth, with Tesco up a more modest 0.3% and Sainsbury’s flat at 0.0%. And although Asda declined, it did so less steeping, at -1.9%, and increased the number of shoppers visiting its stores compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, grocery prices have continued to rise since returning to inflation at Christmas.

Booze-fuels Christmas sales

Alcohol was one of the biggest winners at Christmas this year, Nielsen data showed last month, becoming the second highest performing category across retail, behind only confectionery.

Sparkling – particularly Prosecco – was named as a key products fuelling sales at Aldi, The Co-op and northern retailer Booths, although Booths added that Champagne sales were also strong, up +28%. Sparkling wine sales also saw a boost at specialist drinks retailers Virgin Wines and Majestic. Majestic reported sales of sparkling wine sales rose 12% compared to Champagne’s more modest 3% rise.

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