SPAR, the leading symbol group in the UK, has announced market leading sales for the four weeks to 2 January 2022. Year-on-year1 (YOY) sales grew by +2.3% whilst year-on-year-on-year2 (YOYOY) sales grew at +13.2% well ahead of the symbol group market as a whole3.

In the four weeks to 2 January 2022, the total grocery category rose by +14% YOY1. Medicines had the highest YOY1 sales rise (+47%) with cold and flu remedies driving this growth. Baby products sales grew by +25% YOY1 with baby food within that up by +24% YOY1.

Soups sales grew by +26% with an increase in ready-to-serve soups sales +31% YOY1. Crisps and snacks grew by 19%, propped by everyday sharing subcategory, with YOY1 growth of +53%. Soft drinks had the highest contribution to the overall grocery sales with impulse sports and energy drinks subcategory driving the growth.

Total fresh sales grew by + 7.1% YOY1.

Louise Hoste, SPAR UK Managing Director, said: “Our Christmas trading results are confirmation of how SPAR continues to lead the convenience store and symbol market3.  According to Nielsen Scan Track data, it shows that in the four weeks to 1st January, the c-store market was up +2.1% and symbols as a whole was down -2.5%. Our YOY1 sales grew by +2.3%.

“Our busiest days during the four week period were Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve in cash sales and number of transactions showing how shoppers are motivated to use our stores.”

The SPAR own label Christmas packaged lines and in particular the savoury range and the new party food lines, performed very well. The ‘2 for £2’ was a very popular price mechanism.

“We had a really strong Christmas week for SPAR Brand sales, which were up +5.4% YOY1 and +26% YOYOY2,” added Hoste. “SPAR Brand continues to deliver growth. It is worth over £350m annually and is the twentieth biggest selling food brand in the UK,” she said.

“We have a great pipeline of development, covering a number of categories coming up in the next few months. We have had a great response from shoppers to our relaunched paperware range and additions to our frozen category.

“We are the first grocer in the UK to make our full range of own label wines suitable for vegans and we have recently brought a brand new own label range of pet food to stores,” she added.

Last May SPAR announced that the group would invest £125million into stores and improve its supply chain and IT capability in order to support retailers. The symbol group is more than half way through that process. Investment has been made in to store developments all over the UK. James Hall & Co invested in community store retailing, the Henderson Group opened 28 new stores in Northern Ireland last year and has plans to spend over £50 million on infrastructure, marketing, new products and ranges this year. AF Blakemore launched a purpose-built, 165,000sqft distribution depot in Bedford, while Appleby Westward and CJ Lang have invested in new delivery fleets and new retailer recruitment support.

Earlier this month, SPAR unveiled a new brand positioning that celebrates the unique characteristics of SPAR convenience stores. The new brand positioning is called ‘The Joy Of Living Locally’.

“We support our independent retailers with five very successful wholesale businesses who are investing in the brand, stores, product, ranges, IT and infrastructure. We operate a multi-format retail strategy which meets specific customer propositions.  We are working with retailers on developing stores and as a result they can focus delivering profitable stores, tailored to each local community. We have a number of exciting new projects landing in stores this year which will validate our position as the leading symbol group in the UK,” concluded Hoste.

1 Source: SPAR UK. Figures exclude data from James Hall & Co Ltd

2 Source: SPAR UK: Figures exclude data from James Hall & Co Ltd

3 Source: Nielsen, Scan Track

4 weeks to Jan 1st 2022

C-stores +2.1%

Symbols -2.5%

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