Heat, sport and alfresco eating maintains supermarket sales surge, Nielsen reports

The continuing hot weather combined with a series of major sporting events led to a surge in alfresco eating which meant the UK’s leading supermarkets saw another impressive jump in sales figures, according to Nielsen retail data released today.

The amount shoppers spent on groceries during the four weeks ending 15 July 2017 was 5.1% higher versus the same period a year ago – the highest year-on-year rise for at least four years. This follows on from a 4.0% year-on-year rise in the previous four week period (ending 17 June 2017). The week ending 24th June alone saw sales rise 7.1%¹.

Shoppers also made four percent more grocery trips to supermarkets compared to the same period last year, when the weather was cool and wet and sales fell.

“Various factors typically drive extra spend in grocery shopping – more disposable income, more promotions, peak events and changes in weather, and lifestyle,” said Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight. “However, the first two have 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.”

Ice cream, alcohol mixers, fresh burgers see particularly strong growth
This behaviour is reflected in strong sales growths in categories such as ice cream (up 45%), alcohol mixers (+44%), fresh beef burgers (+29%), lemonade (+24%), cider (+19%), sparkling wines (+17%), soft drinks (+16%) and prepared salads (+16%). At the peak of the heatwave (week ending 24 June) sales of strawberries and cream rose 18%, whilst packs of strawberries alone increased 10% in the final week of Wimbledon (week ending 15 July).

How the retailers performed
It was only the second time since July 2013 that all of the biggest grocery retailers saw year-on-year sales rise. During the 12 weeks ending 15 July 2017, Tesco (up 2.8%) had the biggest rise among the Big Four, whilst Iceland had the biggest rise (7.8%) of anyone outside the discounters. Marks and Spencer also traded well with food sales increasing 4.1%.