Retail Trading – The Post Christmas Results

20 Jan,2020

[lead]It’s common knowledge that retailers start preparing for the Christmas rush well in advance due to what it does for their sales. But what did Christmas 2019 bring for our favourite grocers?[/lead]

The build-up to Christmas is a busy time for all of us, but it’s especially hectic for retailers. The ultimate retail event – Christmas for our local grocers surrounds the massive increase in customer spending and we see retailers begin preparations in the summer months to make sure they can reap all the benefits of this time of buying and gift-giving. Christmas spending leaves no stone unturned, with the focus being on all departments imaginable such as tech, clothing, beauty and most importantly food.

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Due to the huge build-up to the event, it’s become common practice for retailers to release their trading stats in the new year, and from all the emphasis we put on retailer’s festive performance here at Tactical, we thought we’d have a look at this year’s results for ourselves!

According to stats found within The Grocer, the majority of retailers seemed to perform quite poorly this year, thanks to the popularity that surrounds the Black Friday sales. The main focus of Kantar and Nielsen’s market share data is the fact that the stats are showing that grocers have experienced their worse Christmas since 2015, but the overall performance of the main 4 has come up as an expected but unfortunate disappointment with a few overall winners along the way.

The Peaks


Many sources say that it was Tesco that came up trumps for this festive season. Their CEO, Dave Lewis commented on their success, recalling it as “a very strong Christmas performance which was ahead of the market,” and how their ‘operational performance was the best of the last six years.’ Their overall performance showed to outperform their competitors in terms of volume and value, even in the tough climate we are currently facing. Thanks to their strong relationships and trading with Wholesalers, Bookers, Tesco pulled through against the odds. After the Christmas rush, it’s been nothing but up for Tesco as sales, shares and performance levels have risen substantially.

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Aldi and Lidl

As the nations favourite discounted grocers, Aldi and Lidl did very well over the festive period, especially in terms of sales. However, this has been put to the rise in new stores that have been popping up, up and down the country. As stated in The Grocer, Lidl’s overall sales over the Christmas period rose 11% year on year, boosted by around £110m from customers switching to the discounter from rival grocers. Lidl’s sales, in their words, remained ‘positive’ over the Christmas period, helped by their 13% growth that they had seen in their beers, wines and spirits range.

As for Aldi, when compared to 2018, their sales were up 7.9% in the four weeks leading to Christmas Eve; breaking £1bn for the first time. Like Lidl, Aldi’s sales over the Christmas period were helped substantially by their growing sales in beer, wines and spirits, as well as there Premium Specially Selected ranges of fresh Britain meat.

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Waitrose was also seen to beat most of their more mainstream competitors during the festive season. Waitrose was up 0.4% in like for like sales but saw their gross sales drop 2.3% which can be blamed on a number of store closures. The same cannot be said for partners John Lewis whose gross sales were down by 2% in the seven weeks over the Christmas period.

The Troughs


According to The Grocer, Morrisons had set the bar very low for Christmas 2019, so their poor results were not a surprise. They made it clear that in the recent climate, many grocers were under pressure this year, but were still delivering good results. Morrisons themselves saw a 1.7% drop in sales, excluding fuel, in the 22 weeks ending 5 January. This was mainly down to falling retail sales as wholesale revenues, unfortunately, came in flat. In the first weeks of January, Morrisons shares fell to four-month lows this week but ended up 1.6% to 195.5p. So, not the best time for Morrisons, coming in with one of the lowest levels of performance amongst its competitors.

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According to The Grocer and other sources, Sainsbury’s seemed to do well in terms of their grocery trading, seeing an 0.4% increase in like for like sales. However, the same cannot be said for their other merchandise which saw a 3.9% drop. Sainsbury’s are another grocer who seems to be suffering in the current climate but are trying to turn things around with strict capital strategies. Overall, Sainsbury’s were seen to take a substantial hit this Christmas.

Marks & Spencers

M&S seemed to do well within sales of their groceries, seeing a 1.4% rise. But their other areas, like their clothing and their homeware, took a huge hit. As seen in The Grocer,  M&S shares fell from 9.7% back to 197.2p as their other departments continued to disappoint. There has been speculation around the strength that M&S have in areas other than their food hall, and this didn’t change over Christmas, and those particular speculations proved to be correct.

The Importance of Field Marketing

Even during a time where increased spending is expected, it’s clear to see that things won’t always go in favour of the retailer. No one can predict sale statistics but what retailers can do is take the right precautions to help ensure a successful Christmas. This is where Tactical Solutions comes in! Utilising effective field sales, Tactical Solutions can support your brand through strategies which can involve EPOS sales analysis via our syndicated team, or tactical work from our Flexx Team. Either way, we will always ensure your products are available, visible and compliant.

If you’d like to benefit from Tactical’s skills and ensure that you start your Christmas preparations early, contact Tactical today!