Supermarket sales suffer from wet start to summer

The wet start to the summer sent ice cream, beer and burger sales plummeting on this time last year as shoppers turned to soup to cope with the unseasonable conditions, supermarket sales figures show.

Grocers enjoyed only modest growth of 1.4% year on year over the quarter to June 16, largely down to last year’s bumper summer which included soaring temperatures and the build-up to the men’s FIFA World Cup, according to analysts Kantar.

Ice cream sales over the last month were £15 million lower than the same time last year, while beer was down £17 million and burgers fell £6 million. Instead, shoppers turned to comfort food as the rain fell, with fresh and tinned soup sales up by 8% and 16% respectively.

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Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “The modest level of current growth is thanks in no small part to the wet start to the summer, with last year’s heatwave and the run-up to the men’s FIFA World Cup making 2018 a difficult year to top.”

Aldi attracted 883,000 more shoppers over the quarter, extending its market share by 0.5 percentage points on last year to 7.9%. Lidl also enjoyed another strong period, with sales up by 7.5% and market share reaching 5.7%.

Online grocer Ocado was the UK’s fastest growing supermarket, with sales growth of 11.3% despite only 3% of British shoppers currently using it.

Tesco sales were flat year-on-year despite an increase in volumes sold, caused by average pack prices falling as sales of its value own label lines like Eastman’s and Redmere Farms increased by 11%.

Source: Nielsen
Source: Nielsen

Analysts Nielsen also recorded sales growth of just 0.4% across the sector in the last four weeks and more than £120 million in missed sales due to the weather.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, said: “It’s clear that promotions, events and the vagaries of the weather have a big impact on supermarket sales.

“The summer trading season stretches 18 weeks from the first May bank holiday to the last week in August. In the first seven weeks of summer 2019, shoppers have so far spent £350 million less in supermarkets. This equates to a 2.1% fall in value sales compared to the same time period last year.”