JAN / FEB DIGITAL EDITION – Supermarkets hold steady

January is grim for consumers, but it’s a cheerful time for supermarket bosses, even with Brexit looming. Tesco’s latest report shows the UK and Ireland business had a strong Q3 and Christmas. Sainsbury’s also turned in a positive performance, with online groceries and convenience store sales up significantly. Sainsbury’s must be cheered too by the court ruling that CMA’s verdict on the ASDA takeover will be delayed until late April, giving longer to review and respond. And Sainsbury’s are partnering Red Nose Day on March 15, even more to smile about.

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Despite John Lewis Partnership’s strong results, Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield told Radio 4’s Today programme it was a tough market with a lot of discounting. No doubt he meant the two-thirds of UK households visiting discounters over Christmas, glad tidings for Aldi and Lidl. To rub it in, Which? editor Harry Rose has said switching from Waitrose to Morrisons would save around £170 a year on the same basket of goods.

In our Back of Store section, we report on Wincanton’s best Christmas trading period in ten years. We also have ideas for improving your supply chain, including Combillift and Hyster’s forklifts, Zetes’ software solutions, Inotec’s warehouse finishing and Oakland’s Distress Load Management service.

Quitting cigarettes is a popular resolution for thousands every January but it’s hard. Thankfully help is available, as our Vaping feature reveals. The latest batch of Next Generation Products to help smokers stop are a long way from the first generation that arrived here in the early 2000’s.

Also in our features Spring Confectionery, in particular chocolate, is one of our favourite ways to brighten our lives between now and spring. We’re notoriously a nation of self-treaters but gifting accounts for over 60% of chocolate occasions, so we’re not all bad. And we’re big on sharing too.

Speaking of which, The Big Night In consumer concept has been here since the days when local retailers offered video rentals plus all manner of impulse goodies. Videos are history now but the surging popularity of blockbuster TV dramas through Netflix etc means we’re hooked on binge-watching and treats as we do it.

Shoppers feeling jaded after Christmas don’t need passports to escape. The World Foods category is growing, with shoppers looking to spice up meal times and create authentic experiences at home. And everyone can share in Chinese New Year on Tuesday 5th February.

Finally, make a note in your diary about GroceryAid Day on, Tuesday 26 February, when the charity wants its supporters to make people in the industry aware of the practical, emotional and financial support available in a crisis. Do your bit to help.

Charles Smith

Editor