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UK's supermarket sales suffer

Christian Fernsby |
The latest grocery market share figures, published by Kantar, show year-on-year supermarket sales fell by 0.5% in the 12 weeks to 14 July 2019 in the UK.

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This marks the first overall decline in the supermarket sector since June 2016.

However, on the back of record sales during last year’s hot summer, the tough period was not unexpected.

As in politics, nothing is certain in retail, but it is anticipated that the market will return to growth once the comparative highs of the 2018 summer pass.

The difficulties in emulating last year’s performance are evident when looking at traditional summer categories.

Most notably, consumers spent £75 million less on alcohol this year compared to last, with beer down 11% and cider down 13%.

Soft drinks sales fell by £56 million and ice cream by £55 million.

However, the cooler weather gave confectionery a chance to shine as it racked up an extra £68 million of customer spend.

Chocolate in particular grew by 15% as shoppers enjoyed a treat without having to worry about whether or not it would melt.

Despite the tough climate, branded goods also fared slightly better than the overall market, increasing sales by 0.2%.

Lidl was the fastest growing bricks and mortar retailer this period, with sales up 7.0%.

Aldi reached a new record share of the market, accounting for 8.1% of sales with spend up by 6.7% on last year.

Its branded lines grew particularly quickly, up 17%, although they still account for less than a tenth of Aldi’s overall sales.

Amid the market slowdown Co-op kept its run of growth going.

The retailer has now seen sales increase consistently since May last year.

Online specialist Ocado was the standout retailer this period in terms of growth, increasing sales by 11.9% and growing its shopper base by 6% over the past year.

Ocado’s business model shielded it from the effects of shoppers cutting back on unplanned and smaller trips, which has impacted the bricks and mortar retailers, and in fact Ocado’s customers are buying online more frequently than last year.

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