Supermarket sales stabilise in final two weeks of April, latest Nielsen data reveals

Food and drink sales at the UK’s leading supermarkets stabilised in the final two weeks of April after a slow start to Q2 (due to Easter falling earlier in 2013 than in 2012), according to the latest retailer performance figures released by Nielsen.  
In the two weeks ending 27 April 2013, year-on-year sales value growth was up +2.8% while unit sales (volume) was down -0.2%, which is on a par with the underlying trend for 2013.

However, aggregate sales value growth for the UK’s leading supermarkets during the four weeks ending 27 April 2013 was down -1.4% year-on-year. For the previous four-week period (ending 30 March 2013), year-on-year sales value growth was +6.2%. Unit sales (volume) decreased -3.0% year-on-year, compared to +2.5% year-on-year during the previous four weeks.

The year-on-year sales decreases reflect Easter didn’t fall within the four weeks ending 27 April 2013, as it did in the comparative four weeks last year (four weeks ending 28 April 2012).
Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight, Mike Watkins, said: “With the absence of a national event to boost sales in the second quarter, the industry will look to the weather and well-executed promotions to help growth. The weather in April was unhelpful for sales and ‘spend on offer’ fell slightly to 34% of sales. While this level is still relatively high over the longer term, it’s lower than its peak of 37% in November 2011, which suggests that some promotional spend may now be being diverted into more regular vouchers and coupon programmes.

“After a slow start to the quarter, improved and sustainable sales growths will be dependent on a period of warm and dry weather. If the sun comes out, we can expect growths to improve to around +3.5% across the industry. However, food inflation in supermarkets – currently at its lowest rate since July 2010 – will temper sales growths.
“We still have a low-growth economic environment, so consumers remain looking to save money. With the combined market share of the top-four supermarkets falling during the last 12 weeks, we anticipate a continued battle for the loyalty of shoppers during the summer.”
Supermarket share of grocery market