Hot weather and sports boost UK supermarket sales in June

Sales in ice cream soared a staggering 45 per cent during the period, almost matched by sales of alcohol mixers, up 44 per cent

Josie Cox
Business Editor
Monday 24 July 2017 18:16 BST
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Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix, the British and Irish Lions rugby and the women’s cricket World Cup all helped spur demand for alfresco dining
Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix, the British and Irish Lions rugby and the women’s cricket World Cup all helped spur demand for alfresco dining (Shutterstock/Isoon Image)

Hot weather and a series of sports events spurred sales of picnic foods, ice cream, alcohol mixers, burgers and sun care products last month, bolstering the UK’s biggest supermarkets.

According to data from market researcher Nielsen, shoppers spent 5.1 per cent more on groceries during the four weeks to 15 July than during the same period in 2016 – marking the highest year-on-year increase in at least four years.

That follows a 4 per cent year-on-year rise in the previous four-week period to 17 June. The week ending 24 June alone saw sales rise 7.1 per cent, according to Nielsen.

Separate data from Kantar Worldpanel chimed with the Nielsen figures, showing a 3.9 per cent increase in sales for the 12 weeks to 16 July, also driven by fine weather. But that data also showed that price increases are no longer accelerating as fast as they had been. Like-for-like inflation was around 3.2 per cent, unchanged from where it was in June.

“One year on from the EU referendum – which had a marked impact on the price of imported groceries – hard-pressed shoppers could soon start to feel upward pricing pressures ease,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel.

Commenting on the rise in sales over the past month Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, said that various factors typically drive extra spend in grocery shopping – more disposable income, more promotions, peak events and changes in weather, and lifestyle.

He said that the first two had been falling in recent times “which shows the impact that hot weather and big sporting events – such as Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix, the British and Irish Lions rugby and the Women’s Cricket World Cup – had on people’s purse strings”.

“This combination encourages shoppers to spend more, particularly on fresh foods and to use convenience stores more often. With the likelihood of eating and drinking outside also increasing people are more inclined to indulge and treat themselves,” he said.

Sales in ice cream soared a staggering 45 per cent during the period, according to the Nielsen data, almost matched by sales of alcohol mixers, up 44 per cent and fresh beef burgers, up 29 per cent. Lemonade sales increased by 24 per cent, cider sales by 19 per cent and sparkling wines increased by 17 per cent.

At the peak of the heatwave – during the week ending 24 June – sales of strawberries and cream rose 18 per cent. Sales of punnets of strawberries alone increased 10 per cent in the final week of Wimbledon, which was the week to 15 July.

Nielsen said that the four-week period was only the second time since July 2013 that all of the UK’s biggest grocery retailers saw year-on-year sales increase.

Tesco, at 2.8 per cent, enjoyed the biggest rise among the four dominant national retailers. Of all retailers, but excluding the discounters, Iceland saw the greatest increase, at 7.8 per cent.

Tesco had a 27.4 per cent market during the four weeks, putting it in first position, followed by Sainsbury’s with a share of 15.1 per cent, Asda, at 13.7 per cent and Morrisons at 9.9 per cent.

Last week, official figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the quantity of goods sold in stores and online rose by 0.6 per cent in June, beating economist forecasts and following a fall of 12. per cent in May – an increase that economists also attributed to hotter weather.

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