Low consumer confidence hits even discounters

Europeans spent 2.3 % more for everyday groceries in the final quarter of 2018 than in that of 2017. In the third quarter, growth was still + 3.8 %. Discounters are also experiencing a slowdown.


Weakening economy

Volume dropped by 0.4 % in Europe (the worst performance in two years), while prices went up by 2.7 %. For the full year, growth was 3.1 % - the exact same number as in 2017. Various indicators point in the direction of an economic slowdown in major European countries: “Overall spending in Europe has been affected due to slowdown in large economies such as Germany and Italy, along with slower consumption from consumers in countries such as the UK,” said Pedro Lima, managing director Nielsen Benelux.


According to the Nielsen study, discounters in Western Europe only grew by 2 %, which is now the same growth rate as that of supermarkets or hypermarkets, Lima continued: "FMCG sales are being affected with fewer trade promotions by discounters and also slowing down of sales from convenience stores, that are considered as growth drivers in FMCG".


Results per country

With a nominal growth of 0.2 %, Belgium is ranked 26th of the 28 countries. Volumes receded by 1.3 %, while prices went up by 1.6 %. The convenience channel did grow by 5.8 %. In the Netherlands, volumes went down by 0.5 %, while prices increased by 2.3 % - leading to a 1.7 % nominal growth.


The best year-on-year growth remains in Turkey (+24.2 %: largely due to inflation and despite a fourth quarter volume decrease of 2.7 %). Other countries with a high growth were Hungary (5.5 %), Poland (4.3 %), Norway (2.7 %) and Sweden (2.2 %). Switzerland, on the other hand, had no growth at all (rather a decrease of 0.4 %). Of the five biggest Western European markets, Spain achieved the highest growth (2.2 %), followed by Italy and the UK (1.4 % and 0.8 %, respectively). Germany had zero growth.


Nielsen graph: all major markets grow slower than European average