Trepidation precedes Tesco’s trading update

Shares in Tesco are hovering, as traders try to gauge market sentiment on the food retailer ahead of its report on Thursday.

Tesco’s latest figures will give the market an important insight into progress on the company’s strategy of returning its focus to UK markets. Tesco is still the largest of the big four food retailers, but over the last five years it has seen its lead steadily eroded by Sainsbury's and Asda as they battle for second place.

Early indications are that Asda has managed to increase its market share, while Tesco has continued to slide and Sainsbury’s has maintained its position. The bigger issue on the horizon will have been the migration of shoppers to the discount end of the market, where stores like Lidl and Aldi have benefited from increased footfall.

The other part of the equation is online sales, and in the months and years ahead this will be the key battle ground. Tesco has a total market share of around a 30%; however, in the UK online retail market it has an even more enviable 47% share. Online purchases have been the real growth area for all retailers, and delivery and collect options have increased dramatically. One big question is around the success of Morrisons’ tie up with Ocado. Until recently the former’s online shopping facilities had been woefully inadequate, and it was hoped that the new arrangement would rectify the problem. Currently it remains to be seen whether this is the case.  

Looking at a weekly chart and assuming the 315 level can hold, we may see Tesco shares try to re-test the 370 level in the coming weeks.

Tesco chart

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