Unseasonably warm weather last month has given British supermarkets a short-term sales lift, but it is their continued use of promotions that is maintaining retail footfall and total store spend, according to new figures from Nielsen.
Value growth at the UK’s grocery multiples increased to 4.1% (from 3.4%) in the four weeks to 1 September 2011, but this was not enough to off-set the underlying slowdown in volume growth, which once again remained unchanged at -0.9%.
Retailers continue to use promotions, with 36% of sales on offer over the last four weeks, broadly unchanged from last month (37%).
Categories that benefited from the warm weather include soft drinks (+10%), BWS (Beer Wine Spirits) (+8%) and deli, including fresh meats, cheese and chilled foods (+ 6%). However, the engine room of growth – packaged grocery – struggled at 3%, as did household and petcare (-1%).
Mike Watkins, senior manager retailerservices at Nielsen, said: “Waitrose, of the mainstream supermarkets, is continuing to enjoy the biggest growth. It’s still attracting new shoppers, helped by its fast-expanding convenience store format.
“But it’s the discounters – Aldi, Lidl and Iceland – which remain the fastest growing sector. This shows how the market is polarising, with savvy shoppers mixing and matching shopper missions across a variety of formats – using both large and small stores – and across different retailers, targeting the best offers.
“It’s worth noting too the Co-operative (-0.4%) now has a stable 7.5% share of trade, following its completion of the Somerfield integration. With a total estate of around 4,000 food shops, Co-operative food retailers now has the highest frequency of visit of any UK food retailer.”