Royal wedding and FA Cup drive bumper UK supermarket sales

Shoppers spent £415m on the Friday before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex married

Sunny weather, the royal wedding and the FA Cup sparked bumper sales of burgers, sun cream and non-alcoholic beer, with shoppers splashing out £415m on the Friday before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex tied the knot and Chelsea beat Manchester United.

The grocery market rose by 2.7% in the three months to 20 May, up from 2% reported a month ago, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

“The sun shone on the grocery market over the past month with record-breaking temperatures, a bank holiday weekend and royal wedding fever all contributing to a bumper period,” said Chris Hayward, a consumer specialist at Kantar.

He said the festivities and warm weather encouraged shoppers to fire up the barbecue with sales of burgers and sausages up by 39% and 12% respectively, while non-alcoholic beer sales jumped by 64%. Over 16.6m households chose to pick up an ice-cream as temperatures soared. Brits were also slathering on the sun cream with sales rocketing by 64% on this time last year.

Over the early May bank holiday, spending in supermarkets was up 10% compared to the same long weekend last year as temperatures reached record highs.

The strong sales came despite inflation of 2.1%, down from 2.5% two months ago and 3.6% at the beginning of the year.

Kantar expects inflation to fall slightly this year, but pricescontinue to rise particularly fast in goods such as butter and canned colas.

“Growth is well ahead of inflation, indicating that despite any underlying concerns shoppers may have around balancing the monthly household budget, they are willing to spend on food and drink,” said Mike Watkins, the UK head of retailer insight at analysts Nielsen.

Nielsen said the heatwave had helped the supermarkets to sell more food and drink, rather than relying on inflation to boost sales. Alcoholic drinks were up 12%, soft drinks 13%, ice-cream 41%, and crisps and snacks 7.5% as Brits dined alfresco.

Morrisons was the strongest performer of the big four traditional supermarkets with growth of 2.9%, according to Kantar, ahead of Asda on 2.8% and Tesco on 2.2%.

Sainsbury’s is trailing the market with just 1% growth, but at least one analyst suggested this may be as a result of the supermarket switching sales of non-food products to its fast-growing network of Argos concessions.

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Lidl was the only high street grocer to see growth in double digits with sales up 10.4%.

Aldi’s sales rose by 6.7%, its lowest growth since the end of 2010. Analysts said growth at both Lidl and Aldi was being driven by store openings, with sales at established stores rising at a slower pace than the traditional supermarkets.

“The German discounters continue to show signs of fatigue,” said James Grzinic, a retail analyst at Jefferies.

But figures from the home goods store B&M underlined how cut-price chains are benefiting from an increasingly competitive market in which shoppers are looking to save money.

The discounter said sales rose 4.7% at its established UK stores in the year to 31 March, underpinning a 25% rise in group profits to £229.3m despite a 52% crash in profits at the group’s German chain Jawoll. B&M said poor weather had hit sales of gardening goods in Germany and the business also experienced disruption from the arrival of a new management team.

Total sales for B&M rose 22% to £2.9bn over the year and the company said it saw opportunities to expand into new areas as a “constant flow” of stores coming on to the market as other retailers failed was making it easier to grow.


Sarah Butler

The GuardianTramp

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