Olympic success and hot weather drives best supermarket results in nearly three years, Nielsen reports

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The hot weather and Britain’s success at the Olympics in Rio combined to generate the best year-on-year sales figures at the UKs leading supermarkets for nearly three years, according to Nielsen retail performance data released today.

During the four weeks ending 13 August 2016, the value of sales was up 0.9% versus the same period a year ago – the best figure (excluding Easter and Christmas-inflated periods) since the four-weeks ending 9 November 2013 (1.7%). Sales volumes increased 1.0% – the best figure for over 16 months (28 March 2015, 1.5%).

“The stellar Team GB performances at the Olympics combined with the hot weather, particularly in mid-July, helped supermarkets to their own personal best for some time,” says Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight. “Brexit seems to have been replaced by an Olympic ‘feel-good’ factor among shoppers and there were more visits to buy food and drink in the last four weeks than this time last year, with most retailers benefitting from an increase in shopper penetration.”

Watkins notes the figures would have been even better for the supermarkets “if not for the intense price competition, which is, of course, good news for consumers.”

The amount of sales on promotional items fell further to 28% reflecting the big four supermarkets’ move to “simplify the overall customer offer in response to the growth of the discounters by lowering the level of promotions and reducing multi buys, instead moving to permanent price cuts.”

Mineral water, fresh burgers and sparkling wine see huge spikes
The strongest category performances were in the Soft Drinks category (sales up +9.3% year-on-year, notably mineral water sales up by 18.5%). This was followed by the Frozen category (+4.7%) driven by Ice-cream, within which, hand-held ice-cream sales had a phenomenal 41% rise.

Produce (up +4.1%) saw a notable 15% increase in strawberry sales and, within Fresh Food, a 19% rise in sales of fresh beef burgers.

Beers, Wine & Spirits (+3.0%) also saw a highly improved performance. Within BWS, sales of Beer & Cider soared +6.9%, whilst Champagne sales rose +4.9% and Sparkling Wine continued its double-digit growth with a huge +13.9% hike in sales.

Supermarket sales share trend