M&S leads way after strongest trade in Christmas quarter

Market research group NielsenIQ estimates that M&S’s grocery sales grew 9.4 percent during the fourth quarter, making it the strongest performer in the sector.

In second place was Lidl with growth of 8.5 percent, followed by Aldi with a 4.8 percent increase. Both benefited from new store openings.

Nielsen said that M&S’s sales performance benefited from weak comparators from the same period in 2020, when Britain was in lockdown.

However, as its Big Four supermarket rivals – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – all saw bumper sales in the fourth quarter of 2020, their latest figures look weak in comparison.

Tesco did the best with a 0.1 percent decline in sales, well ahead of Asda, which saw a 3.1 percent fall. Sainsbury’s sales were down 4.2 percent, while Morrisons’ tumbled 5.6 percent.

Clive Black, head of research at Shore Capital, said: “Nielsen’s Christmas trading update supports our view of a sound festive trading period for the British trade set against very demanding comparatives for most.

“Whilst many recorded negative 12-week sales, this needs to be set against last year’s lockdown and so on a twoyear basis, we see sales levels ahead of what we were anticipating at the start of 2020.”

Nielsen said that shoppers spent £7.1million during the final two weeks before Christmas, ahead of forecasts of £6.8billion and the £6.7billion in December 2020, when they spent heavily to treat themselves during the second lockdown.

Internet orders fell from 12.1 percent to 11.3 of total orders, as shoppers made 27 million more trips to grocery stores than they did the year before.

Yesterday, Lidl said that it achieved record footfall in the week leading up to Christmas, up 14 percent on the year before. It said that its overall sales grew by 2.6 percent year-on-year.

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