Early July heatwave helps supermarket sales bounce back, Nielsen reports

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The searing temperatures in early July helped the UK’s leading supermarkets to the largest monthly year-on-year rise in sales – outside Christmas and Easter – since November 2013, according to the latest data from global information and insights company Nielsen.

The value of sales at the tills increased +0.4% during the four weeks ending 18 July 2015, versus the same period a year ago. (The last time this was higher – excluding these seasonal spikes – was 1.7% in the four weeks ending 9 November 2013.)

Sales volumes increased +0.2%– the eighth consecutive monthly year-on-year rise.

“The positive figures were driven by the early July heatwave which contributed to a startling 4% rise in sales in the week ending 4 July,” said Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins. “However, sales weakened when cooler conditions returned – a reminder of how dependent, in the short term, retailer and category performance is on the weather.”

Drinks leading the charge
T
he impact of the summer weather was reinforced by Soft Drinks (+3.9% rise in year-on-year sales), and Beers, Wines & Spirits (+3.1%) seeing the strongest category growth, aside from General Merchandise (+4.6%).

Also, Fruit & Vegetables – a category that’s experienced some of the deepest price cuts over the last year – returned to positive sales growth (+0.2%) for the first time in 12 months.

However, price cuts and deflation continue to impact other categories, with packaged Grocery (-4.2%) and Dairy (-3.8%) seeing the biggest falls in sales value.

Morrisons again only one of Big Four not to lose share
During the 12 weeks ending 18 July, Morrisons’ sales nudged up 0.1% year-on-year – being the only one of the top four supermarkets in each of the last three periods to see sales growth.

For the fifth consecutive period, Asda had the biggest decrease in year-on-year sales among the top 10 supermarkets – down 3.2%.

It was better news, however, for Co-operative retailers which returned to year-on-year growth for the first time in four periods (up 0.5%). Watkins comments: “Their strategy of tapping into consumers’ ‘little and often’ needs has attracted new shoppers whilst also continuing to encourage more repeat visits to their convenience stores.”

Supermarkets market share

Lidl biggest spender on TV and Press advertising for fifth consecutive month
For the fifth consecutive month, Lidl spent the most on TV and press advertising – £4.4m in the four weeks ending 18 July 2015 (222% more than the same period last year). Asda (£4.1m) and Tesco (£3.4m) followed next. 

“Lidl’s sales growth has accelerated again following increased media spend on its signatureShop a Lidl Smarter campaign,” said Watkins. “These ‘taste test’ ads communicate quality and low-price, and they’re having an impact. Lidl is gaining new shoppers, has an increased spend per visit and, in recent weeks, has increased the number of items purchased in its stores.”