Twenty One Years of UK Grocery Market Share

UK Grocery Market Shares are a little dependent on who you believe. In my case, I have chosen one group (initially TNS, subsequently taken over by Kantar) and stuck with them. I have wanted not to focus on the short-term movements, which is what tends to get covered, but to consider the long run trends.

I have covered the resulting graph before but each July I continue to update the annual figures and redraw the graph. we have recently seen the release of the 2018 July figures and so my new graph is below.

UK Grocery Market Share 2018

I won’t rehearse or repeat my previous comments on the early part of the graph and the rise of Tesco and the decline of Sainsbury. Instead I would draw out four more recent issues:

  1. Tesco’s market share continues to slide and is now below that they had in 2004. They remain a dominant feature of the the market, but if Asda/Sainsbury have their combined way, then that could end. This long slow slide is hardly the crisis sometimes portrayed, but it does represent a lost decade for the company.
  2. Asda and Sainsbury have stagnated and swapped position for over 15 years. In the last year Asda stabilised while Sainsbury fell. This though is hardly a compelling case for togetherness – would the sum be less than the parts?
  3. The rise of the discounters continues apace. Aldi and Lidl appear relentless in the graph and their combined market share is nearly 13% i.e. ahead of all bar the “big 3”. Whilst you could add two or three others up to get a bigger number, the pairing of these two makes sense in reflecting how the discounters have shaken the market.
  4. Whilst not on the graph above, but in the Kantar data and press release, Ocado have a market share of 1.2%. Given spatial concentration this is quite interesting. How far can they go?

About Leigh Sparks

I am Professor of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, where I research and teach aspects of retailing and retail supply chains, alongside various colleagues. I am Chair of Scotland's Towns Partnership. I am also a Deputy Principal of the University, with responsibility for Education and Students and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
This entry was posted in Aldi, Asda, Discounters, Food Retailing, Lidl, Market Shares, Retail Change, Sainsbury, Tesco, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Twenty One Years of UK Grocery Market Share

  1. Gary Carp says:

    Lidl and Aldi have been present in the U.K. since the early 1990s…and discounting has been a long term phenomenon….from the 1980s name Kwiksave were the dominant force being the first U.K. retailer to move to centralised distribution….

    The growth of Lidl and Aldi in recent years is due to one core factor – they have been opening new stores. The greatest predictor historically of share growth and decline has been new store openings / closures..and each bricks & mortar retailer’s lifecycle can e adjudged on whether they are opening or acquiring new square footage. (I have seen no academic research in this but undoubtedly some sharp cookie has produced a definitive analysis)

    The point on Ocado is interesting…but perhaps the rise of Amazon will be more it threatens to disrupt not just the economics of retailing but of the entire nation-State.

    • Leigh Sparks says:


      Thanks for the comments.

      Lidl and Aldi came in c1993 along with Shoprite (Isle of Man) whose first store was just down the road from us at the University. All struggled (and Netto) and some exited. Not sure the lack of growth was down to lack of store openings as they had to alter what they offered. But certainly recent growth has been through critical mass and store growth. Unlike Tesco in the 2007-2013 period.

      In terms of Kwik Save, if you have not seen it then have a look at my piece on Albert Gubay (the KS founder) – – which includes some links to my academic articles on Kwik Save, Gubay and Shoprite. It also has some early photos of Kwik Save from the 1960s.

      Amazon – yes, point taken.

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  4. Sarah Gaskell says:

    Thank you for supplying this information.
    I am researching the actual number of supermqrkets that were in business in different decades, rather than the percentage of market share. Do you happen to know the figures for the year of 1990, 2000 maybe 2010 if possible?Thank you for supplying the information within this text. I am currently trying to prove the connection between supermarket/ online growth, the decrees in ‘ grow your own’ and the increase in obesity. Unfortunately I cannot find any actual figures regarding actual supermarket buildings ,I can only find percentage of market share.
    I hope to use this is a college presentation.
    Thank you for taking the time to read

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