Supermarkets in the United Kingdom - Statistics & Facts

For the last decade, the United Kingdom’s grocery landscape has been dominated by the ‘big four’ supermarket chains: Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. However, on the back of the economic recession, rising food prices and tightened belts, the market has been shaken by British consumers' search for value.

In 2015, IGD valued the grocery retail market at 178 billion British pounds, predicting this figure to rise annually up to 2021. Additional figures from the Office of National Statistics show that despite an increase in the value of grocery store sales, the volume of goods purchased by consumers shows negligible change.

Although rising food prices have not caused the quantity of goods purchased to fall, consumers seem more likely than ever to search for cheaper alternatives to the ‘big four.’ Discount supermarkets are enjoying a surge in popularity among food shoppers. According to figures from Kantar Worldpanel, all of the leading four supermarket brands have lost market share in the three months to August 2016. Meanwhile, discount brands have gained market share, with the German discounters Aldi and Lidl showing the greatest breakthrough. Supermarkets have reacted by reducing prices, resulting in the ongoing 'supermarket price wars', and the highest share of food volume sales on promotion in Europe.

Consumer surveys indicate a shift in thinking among shoppers. According to recent evaluations, the number of consumers that use discounters is still increasing, while the number that never use them has decreased: they are chosen over supermarkets because of their public perception as cheaper and, ironically, to avoid the complexity of over-promotion.

Convenience stores continue to play a large role in the market. Many of the leading supermarket chains operate their own local stores, and 22 percent of British shoppers claim to visit their local convenience store every day. Meanwhile, online grocery shopping could further revolutionize the market as e-commerce gains popularity among shoppers in the United Kingdom. Currently, online grocery sales in the United Kingdom take 6.9 percent of the global e-commerce market, and is thus the largest online grocery market in Europe.

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