Tesco outperforms rivals in key Christmas period as Omicron fears boost grocery spending – business live

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Supermarket giant Tesco has outperformed its rivals over the crucial Christmas period, as the omicron variant led people to avoid hospitality venues and eat more at home.

The UK’s largest grocer grew its market share to 27.9% over the 12 weeks to Boxing Day, an increase of 0.6%, according to data just released by market researchers Kantar Worldpanel.

Online grocer Ocado also had a good Christmas – it was the only retailer to grow sales versus last year, while every major grocer increased sales compared with pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose also grew their market shares by 0.3%, 0.2% and 0.1% respectively.

Kantar survey of UK grocery spending

Photograph: Kantar

Overall, take-home grocery sales dropped by 3% in the last 12 weeks compared to 2020, when lockdowns forced people to eat at home more. But spending is still higher than pre-pandemic, with sales 8% stronger than in 2019. And in December, people spent nearly as much in the supermarkets as a year ago.

That highlights how the slump in indoor dining, the cancellation of Christmas parties, and the move to home working has led to more eating at home.

Spending at groceries shot up in December, Kantar reports, as Omicron fears deterred people from eating out.

People seized the chance to enjoy Christmas with friends and family after last year’s muted festivities, and grocery sales hit £11.7bn over the month of December.

This lofty spend figure is down just 0.2% on record 2020 sales, when several areas faced restrictions, and the data suggest that while there weren’t formal rules in place across the UK this year, many people celebrated at home again due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Tesco’s grocery sales in the 12 weeks to December 26 fell by 0.9% compared to 2020, while rivals Sainsbury’s Asda and Morrisons saw their sales fall by 4.4%, 3.9% and 6.5% respectively.

Also coming up

Later today we discover how eurozone companies fared last month, as the omicron wave hit Europe.

European stock markets have opened lower, with the FTSE 100 dipping by 18 points after rallying by 120 points to fresh 22-month highs yesterday.

The agenda

  • 9am GMT: Eurozone services PMI for December
  • 9.30am GMT: UK services PMI for December
  • 1.30pm GMT: US private sector payroll report from ADP
  • 3.30pm GMT: EIA weekly oil inventory figures


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