Nielsen: UK supermarket sales down 1.6% in April as cold, wet weather takes toll

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Cold and wet weather hit sales at the top UK grocers last month and compounded unfavourable comparisons with the hot bumper Easter of April 2011, according to the latest retailer performance figures released by information and insights firm Nielsen.

Headline value year-on-year growth at the UK’s grocery multiples fell -1.6% for the four weeks to 28 April 2012 (down from +4.1% for March), with year-on-year unit growths falling further to -3.6% (from -1.5% for March).

“April was always going to be the most challenging and unrepresentative month for comparisons,” said Nielsen senior manager for retailer services Mike Watkins.  

“Going back 12 months, the late Easter, Royal Wedding and hot weather all contributed to make April 2011 the high point for food sales last year. And this adverse trend has now been compounded by the recent cold and wet weather.

“We get a clearer view of the underlying trend by comparing the seven days trading to Easter Saturday this year (7 April 2012) with last year (23 April 2011). That period shows just +1.3% year-on-year value growth, which indicates it was still an exceptional Easter week in 2011 and consumer demand remains weaker in 2012.

“But as the weather turned cold and wet last month, there was good cheer for some categories. Packaged grocery four-week sales increased by +9.8% (+3.6% volume), while soup sales in particular were up +58% year-on-year for the last two weeks of April.”

Watkins said: “There was no change in the relative performance of the big four grocery multiples. Asda and Waitrose had the best sales growth and are growing market share. Aldi and Lidl also maintained good momentums with sales growths remaining particularly strong in packaged grocery.”

Table: 12-Weekly % Share of grocery market spend by retailer and value sales % change

  % share,12 weeks to

30 Apr 2011

% share,12 weeks to

28 Apr 2012

% value change vs same 12 Weeks Year Ago
TESCO 29.0% 28.7% 2.0%
ASDA 15.8% 16.3% 6.9%
SAINSBURY 15.8% 15.8% 3.3%
MORRISONS 11.4% 11.2% 1.8%
CO-OPERATIVE 7.4% 7.1% -2.0%
WAITROSE 4.0% 4.1% 6.3%
MARKS AND SPENCER 3.5% 3.5% 2.1%
ICELAND 1.9% 1.9% 4.0%
ALDI 1.8% 2.4% 38.7%
LIDL 1.8% 2.0% 15.2%