M&S was Britain's fastest growing food retailer in last quarter -NielsenIQ

A woman walks past a Marks & Spencer store at Oxford Street, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, July 20, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

LONDON, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) was Britain's fastest growing food retailer in the 12 weeks to Dec. 4, market researcher NielsenIQ said on Tuesday, providing more evidence the group's latest turnaround plan is delivering.

NielsenIQ said M&S's sales rose 9.1% in the period year-on-year, outpacing German-owned discounters Lidl and Aldi, which recorded growth of 8.3% and 4.6% respectively.

They were the only three retailers to grow sales against the same period last year.

Market leader Tesco (TSCO.L) was the best performing of the so-called big four grocers, with its 0.7% sales decline significantly outperforming Sainsbury's (SBRY.L), Asda and Morrisons, who recorded declines of 4.6%, 4.2% and 5.6% respectively.

Comparative numbers were tough as in the same period last year Britain was in COVID-19 lockdown.

Rival market researcher Kantar does not include M&S in its monthly reports. read more

Last month M&S, which also sells clothing and homeware, beat forecasts for first-half profit and upgraded its earnings outlook for the second time this year, sending its stock soaring on bets that one of Britain's most elusive turnarounds could finally materialise. Its shares are up more than 70% so far this year. read more

NielsenIQ said total UK till grocery sales fell 2.5% in the four weeks to Dec. 4 year-on-year.

However, it said spending has picked-up with sales down just 0.9% in the first week of December.

The researcher forecast British shoppers would spend 6.8 billion pounds ($9 billion) at supermarkets in the two weeks to Dec. 24.

It said British shoppers were seeking to treat themselves to more premium and higher value items this Christmas, with the average value of the shopping basket running 2.6% higher this year.

($1 = 0.7560 pounds)

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Alex Richardson

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