Is Woolworths Limited still losing market share to its competitors?

Almost one billion dollars walked out of Woolworths Limited’s (ASX: WOW) supermarkets and marched into its competitors Coles and Aldi down the road over the past 12 months, according to Roy Morgan Research.

In its latest supermarket currency report, Roy Morgan says Australians spent $89.8 billion at supermarkets over the previous 12 months to September 2016 – 87% of the total $103 billion that is spent on groceries each year.

Roy Morgan says it estimates that Woolworths garnered $32.6 billion of that spend, 36.3% of all supermarket expenditure. That is $825 million lower than last year, and also represents a 1.4% fall in market share.

In December 2013, Woolworths had a 39% market share, but has steadily been losing its market dominance to rival Coles and the discount supermarkets of Aldi and IGA – backed by Metcash Limited (ASX: MTS) – as the chart below shows.

supermarket market share

Source: Roy Morgan Research


According to Roy Morgan, Coles – owned by Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) – saw $29.8 billion spent in its stores, up $1.1 billion more than the year before – and a 0.9% gain in market share to 33.2%. But Coles doesn’t have it all its own way. Same-store sales growth in company’s Food and Liquor division during the September quarter was just 1.8% – the lowest level since Coles was acquired by Wesfarmers in 2007.

Aldi also added another 0.5% to its market share, now reaping an estimated $11.2 billion in sales for 12.5% total market share. Metcash’s IGA also gained market share – adding 0.3% to lag the top three with 9.8% of the market and $7.3 billion in sales.

Much of the fall in revenues at Woolworths and Coles’ lower sales growth could be to do with Woolworths lowering prices. Woolworths new CEO Brad Banducci has vowed to turn around the supermarket division which has lagged behind Coles in same stores sales over 28 consecutive quarters. We may find out whether that streak is over tomorrow when Woolworths reports its September quarterly sales.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Wesfarmers Ltd and Woolworths. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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