Big four supermarkets lose Christmas sales as 'Boris bounce' fails to appear

Morrisons blames ‘unusually challenging’ market with shoppers worried about Brexit


Sarah Butler, The Guardian (UK)

7 Jan 2020


Supermarkets recorded the slowest Christmas sales growth in at least four years as the big four chains lost sales, according to industry analysts.


While grocers took a record £29.3bn in the so-called golden quarter, the 0.2% rise in sales across the sector was the lowest rate of growth since 2015, according to research firm Kantar. Rival analysts at Nielsen said the growth was the worst in five years, with families spending less on alcohol.


Morrisons, which on Tuesday revealed a 1.7% slide in sales in the 22 weeks to 5 January, said it had endured an “unusually challenging period for sales” as consumer confidence was subdued by concerns about Brexit and the wider economy.


The supermarket’s chief executive, David Potts, said retailers had promoted heavily as they battled to win over shoppers in a tough market.


“Consumers’ confidence, we can see in all the data, has been low over an extended period and that continued throughout the [Christmas] period. Our consumers were quite a bit more than savvy – they were quite cautious in the light of concerns about the macro environment for the country as well as their own personal finances,” Potts said.


He added that Morrisons might have lost out because it did not participate fully in the late November Black Friday promotional period, which had previously acted as a “springboard for Christmas”.


Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said there had been little sign of a “Boris bounce” in the days after the 12 December general election. This is despite economic data this week suggesting that the wider UK economy enjoyed a post-poll boost last month.


“There was no sign of the post-election rush many had hoped for in the final weeks before Christmas, with shoppers carefully watching their budgets. In fact, many of us cut back on traditional and indulgent festive classics. Sales of...


more, including links