Supermarkets peg hopes on final weeks to lift market share

Supermarkets’ ad spend was down in November compared with last year as retailers pin their hopes on the final weeks of the year to lift market share, according to the latest Nielsen figures.


Aldi has increased ad spend by 36% compared with last year.

All the major supermarkets have unsurprisingly “significantly” increased TV and press advertising spend since the end of November as they look to attract shoppers during the peak Christmas season, according to Nielsen.

Supermarkets are thought to be spreading marketing spend over a longer period this year and concentrating activity in the final weeks because Christmas falls on a Tuesday which means the 23 December, usually the busiest trading day, falls on a Sunday.

Tesco was the highest spending supermarket on TV and press investing £1.8m in the four weeks ending 2 December. Asda spent £11.2m, Sainsbury £7.3m and Morrisons £7.1m.

Aldi was the next highest spender investing £6.5m, a 36 per cent increase on last year.

The percentage of items bought on promotion remains at an all-time high of 36 per cent as retailers support festive ranges with in-store promotions. On the high street retailers are already turning to sales to drive footfall and attract shoppers.

Sales growth for the UK’s leading supermarkets slowed during the four weeks ending 8 December with a 1.3 per cent increase year on year. A decrease on the 2 per cent rise recorded in the previous four weeks.

General merchandise sales continue to drag the overall sales growth with food and drinks sales holding up better than expected, according to Nielsen.

Tesco is now in a “much better position” and set for a “strong finish” to the year as a result of its promotional strategy including vouchers and coupons, according to Nielsen. The latest figures show growth of 2.5 per cent at the supermarket in the three months to 8 December, outpacing Asda and Morrisons.

Asda recorded growth of 1.4 per cent, Sainsbury’s saw 3.4 per cent while Morrisons was the only supermarket to see a fall in sales growth, declining 0.9 per cent during the period.

Aldi, which made the biggest year on year increase in marketing investment, saw 43.6 per cent sales growth.

Nielsen UK head of retailer insight Mike Watkins, says: “The sluggish sales figures are partly due to shoppers delaying the big shopping trips until the final week before Christmas when fresh foods are also purchased. Because shoppers are planning visits to take advantage of the many offers available this year we, therefore, expect continued use of media spend across all channels in the next few days to encourage them into store and to buy any remaining indulgences at the same time. With Aldi and Lidl also promoting premium food and drink in a big way and targeting more affluent shoppers this Christmas, there is still a lot to play for this weekend.”

The latest figures from The Office of National Statistics, also out today (20 December), show that sales were flat in November as shoppers held back from early spending amid economic uncertainty.

British Retail Consortium agrees that Christmas shopping in November was “cautious” but says that spending was “building at a respectable pace” in December. The BRC expects performance overall to be “neither a bumper Christmas nor a disaster.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • In the face of increased advertising spend in the run up to Christmas, it is interesting to note the results of our recent survey showing that money-off discounts have a far greater influence than festive ads on where we will shop this month.

    When deciding where to go Christmas grocery shopping, a mere four per cent of consumers claim to be motivated to shop at a particular retailer because its advertising struck an emotional chord.

    Our survey of 1000 consumers also shows that promotional offers have a vital part to play in consumers’ purchasing behaviour this festive season with 84 per cent planning to use a promotional offer when carrying out their Christmas food shop.

    In fact, a quarter of respondents are looking for promotional offers more than they were a year ago and times were just as tough then. The favoured promotional mechanic to save money was ‘money off products coupons’ with 61 per cent of shoppers planning to use and benefit from them.

    So for today’s hard-pressed shoppers, it seems to be less about an ‘all singing all dancing’ advert and more about compelling promotional offers with the emphasis on value.

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