UK consumers are supposed to be cutting back on spending in the midst of the economic doom and gloom and yet premium-priced Waitrose is booming. What’s going on here?
According to research firm Kantar the chintzy grocery chain has just posted 11.7 per cent growth in the last 12 weeks, compared with the same period last year, and has upped its market share from 3.8 to 4.1 per cent.
This is in a period when the average market growth was 3 per cent and low-priced Asda reached just 2.5 per cent growth.
Of course Tesco, Sainsburys and Morrisons also performed pretty well but Waitrose seems to have expanded its niche as the go-to food and packaged goods retailer for middle-class shoppers.
It helps that Waitrose is in the right suburban and shire locations and it has also shrewdly introduced its lower priced Essentials range, but there may be some truth in Kantar’s assertion that a significant proportion of shoppers are losing their enthusiasm for discounts and returning to premium buying behaviour.
Does this herald an upturn in the UK economy? Well we won’t know that till we see if we get the dreaded double-dip recession once the quantitative easing billions have run out, but it could be an encouraging sign.