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Sales of summer products decline at UK grocers

Staff Writer |
A mostly dismal August meant UK shoppers spent more money on cold treatments than traditional summer categories, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

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However, miserable weather did not damp total supermarket sales over the summer months, as sales for the UK grocery sector rose by 3.6% year-on-year in the 12 weeks ended September 10, representing the sixth consecutive month in which sales have increased by more than 3%.

"Disappointing August weather ? even allowing for the mini heatwave over the bank holiday ? meant a difficult month for traditional summer categories," Kantar's Fraser McKevitt said, noting that sales of prepared salad fell by 6%, while both scotch eggs and sun care products were down 16%.

In contrast, the British public spent almost GBP4.0 million on cold treatments in August, almost double that spend in August 2016.

Despite the decrease in fall in sales of some summer products, McKevitt said the UK hasn't seen "sustained market growth of this kind" since May 2013.

A 1.5% increase in the volume of goods going through the tills has contributed to this growth, Kantar said, while the remainder of the overall sales increase is down to higher prices.

Like-for-like grocery inflation now stands at 3.2%, slightly ahead of the headline CPI rate and down 0.1 percentage point on last month. Prices are rising fastest in markets such as butter, fish and cola, according to Kantar, with all major categories now registering inflation.

The average British household spends almost GBP4,200 in supermarkets each year, so a fall in inflation, which Kantar said it expects to see towards the end of the year, will be "a welcome relief", it noted.

Of the UK's big four grocers, Tesco PLC achieved the highest growth in sales in the 12 weeks, up 2.7% year-on-year, though its market share declined to 27.8% from 28.1%.

McKevitt said Tesco's recovery is becoming more "entrenched", noting that sales have grown continually since April this year.

Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC was in second place, with sales up 2.3% as its market share slipped slightly to 10.3% from 10.4%.

Sales of Morrisons' premium 'The Best' range were up 38% year-on-year, making it the fastest growing premium range in a market where "top-tier products are outperforming all other lines," McKevitt noted.

J Sainsbury PLC was next, with sales up 2.1% as its market share decreased to 15.7% from 15.9%.

Last of the big four was Asda Ltd, owned by Wal-Mart Inc in the US, where sales rose by 1.5% and its market share declined to 15.4% from 15.7%.

McKevitt said average spend at Asda of GBP25.74 is the highest of any grocer, reflecting the success of its larger stores and their "appeal for families".

Meanwhile, online grocery delivery company Ocado Group PLC achieved 10% growth in sales, while its market share increased slightly to 1.4% from 1.3%.

Upmarket grocer Waitrose, owned by the John Lewis Partnership, saw 2.4% sales growth, while value frozen foods specialist Iceland achieved 4.0% growth, but Co-op's sales fell by 1.6%.

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