As we have recently opened an office in London, we hope to bring our readers some more frequent insight into the UK shopper. Currently though in the UK it is difficult to find good news stories in these recessionary times. Yet food and drink seem to be holding up well – particularly at the value end of the spectrum. The leading players Tesco and Sainsbury’s have recently reported modest increases in sales and we have seen a big shift towards the discounters Aldi and Lidl who predominantly stock their own brands. Sainsbury’s alone reported a 40% rise in its Basics range over the holiday period and Tesco is trying to reinvent itself as Britain’s biggest discounter with the introduction of over 350 own brands in the last quarter alone.
However, at the other end of the spectrum luxury food retailer Marks and Spencer, which stocks exclusively own label products, recently announced the closure of 25 of its convenience Simply Food stores.
Of course this means that UK manufacturers will need to work harder than ever to maintain or grow share. The retail landscape has changed. Growth is coming from online channels where consumers are increasingly combining online tools such as www.mysupermarket.com, which allows you to compare the price of your shop in the UK’s leading retailers, with portfolio shopping (such as buying packaged goods from a discounter, but fresh produce from a traditional supermarket). P&G have obviously recognized the need to better understand this new landscape and recently announced a 1% stake in online retailer Ocado which will give them a unique insight into online shopping behavior.
So what does this all mean for the UK shopper as budgets start to tighten? Price obviously takes on greater importance, but what of quality? What of brands? Are we just going to become complete bargain hunters? How will the notion of luxury in grocery shift? How do manufacturer brands change in the new landscape? And have your personal spending habits in the supermarket changed of late? Take our quick survey and let us know.
– Contributed by Ian Thomas