Grocery continues its shift away from supermarkets

Consumer analyst Nielsen reported an April increase of 5.9% in consumer spending in the grocery sector but confirmed there was a continued shift away from the ‘big four’ supermarkets.

Unseasonably warm weather coupled with Mother’s Day and the late Easter bank holiday weekend all contributed to the improvement in sales growth. For the week ending Easter Saturday (20th April), overall sales peaked at +15% as shoppers bought into attractive seasonal offers that complemented the warm weather, both in store and online.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda saw their combined market share fall to 64% between February and the end of April.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK Head of Retailer and Business Insight, said: “The underlying trend here seems to be that economising rather than compromising is still the key consumer mindset. Looking ahead, it will be important for retailers and brands to keep up sales momentum through increased promotional activity as we head into the summer of 2019 in order to match the levels of last year’s hot summer.”

In e-commerce, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures in March revealed that online spending continues to rise (+8% in March 2019 compared to March 2018). Despite online shoppers forecast to reach 220m by 2025, there is still a desire for in-person human interaction. Retailers with omni-channel strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, and those without adequate emphasis on customer experience will struggle to retain them.

Rajnish Sharma, Retail Practice Leader at Teleperformance Digital Integrated Business Services said: “The e-commerce brands coming out on top are experience-led with a deep human focus. Regardless of whether the shopper is interacting with a brand from behind a screen, over the phone or in-person, they want their issue or query solved as quickly as possible.

“Customers expect round-the-clock, real time service – at their convenience. With ever-increasing mobile data penetration, the UK consumer can browse and shop at the click of a button, anytime and anywhere.

“Technology acts as an enabler for customer service teams, therefore brands should not underestimate the emotional intelligence which only comes from human agents. That’s why businesses successfully developing the right balance between artificial and human intelligence will improve service and reduce costs.”

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