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Tesco turning corner as sales improve: report

By Ben Woods

Supermarket giant Tesco is showing signs of recovery after improving sales for the fourth month in a row.

The UK's biggest supermarket - which has around 50 stores in Northern Ireland - saw sales slide by just 0.2% in the 12 weeks to March 27, according to a study that predicted the chain would return to growth within the next few months.

But the Kantar Worldpanel report also warned that Tesco's decision to close a number of its stores had put its market share under pressure, falling 0.3% to 28.1%.

The brightening picture for the retail giant came as an early Easter bolstered supermarket sales across the whole industry to their strongest levels for a year, climbing 1.1% compared with the same period in 2015.

The report said the rise in demand was driven by a sales boost of £152m over the Easter period, with 63% of households buying chocolate eggs in March.

Shoppers were also handed a lift from the falling cost of groceries, with like-for-like prices dropping 1.5% in comparison with the same 12 weeks in 2015.

German discounters Aldi and Lidl led the pack with double-digit sales growth over the period, rising 14.4% and 17.7% respectively, the report said.

It also showed that they continued their trend of snatching market share away from the Big Four, with Aldi capturing a record 6% of the market and Lidl hitting 4.4%.

Sainsbury's was the best performer out of the Big Four grocers, recording 1.2% sales growth despite its decision in February to end multi-buy and buy-one-get-one-free promotions.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said consumers were happy to treat themselves after saving money on basic products.

He added: "Premium own-label sales grew by 6.6% in the past 12 weeks, well ahead of the overall grocery market. Aldi and Lidl are leading the way."

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