Nielsen: Olympics and sun give grocery retailers four-week sales boost

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Sales uplift at UK grocers

Sales uplift at UK grocers

The London 2012 Olympics and summer weather helped UK grocery retailers enjoy their best four-week period so far this year, in terms of both year-on-year sales and unit growths, according to the latest UK retailer performance figures from Nielsen.

Aggregate sales growth for the UK’s leading supermarkets during the four weeks ending 18 August 2012 was +3.5% higher than the same period a year ago. Furthermore, unit sales (volume) also increased by +1.7% year-on-year – reversing an 18-month trend of declining unit growth.

The general feel-good factor from the Olympics and the better weather also contributed to the strong performance of the sharing FMCG categories. 

In the four-week period, soft drinks sales increased +10% in value year-on-year (+8% volume), with confectionery up +8% (+6% volume), while crisps/snacks increased +7% (+6% volume).

However, sales growths in the ambient grocery and household category did remain subdued and general merchandise growths fell back (-0.3% value and -1.4% unit sales), indicating weak underlying consumer confidence, said Nielsen.

Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight, Mike Watkins, said: “Retailers have clearly looked to maximise the sales opportunity around the London 2012 Olympics. Although promotional activity has remained unchanged at 35% of FMCG sales, the continual use of money-off vouchers and coupons has marked a differing approach by retailers this summer. 

“This has helped to increase shopping basket spends and, in return, given shoppers further savings at the checkout. Tesco, in particular, had some very attractive offers during July and August which will have helped to increase the frequency of shoppers’ visits.”

When looking at the individual grocery retailers, Watkins said: “The Tesco sales recovery we first saw last month has continued and Tesco has now held market share at 29.1% over the last 12 weeks. 

“Discounters continue to grow sales faster than other food retailers, while Waitrose outperformed with a stellar sales growth of +12% in the four weeks to 18 August 2012 – helped by shoppers spending more per visit on food and drink – making them this period’s winner across the supermarket sector.”