UK supermarkets experience encouraging start to 2012

In the first measure of post-Christmas retail performance, trading at British supermarkets showed encouraging signs, marked by a modest improvement in growth, according to the latest retailer performance figures released this afternoon by analysts Nielsen.

Headline value growth at the UK’s grocery multiples for the four weeks to 4 February 2012 was +3.5%. Unit growths were down slightly at -0.2%.

Nielsen senior manager for retailer services Mike Watkins explains:  “January was a month of two halves.  It began with shoppers holding back spending after Christmas, seemingly choosing instead to pay down credit cards in the opening weeks.  However, re-stocking picked up later in the month after payday, meaning growth across January was an improvement on last year.   Despite the recent cold snap, sales weren’t held back to the extent they were during the Arctic conditions experienced a year ago.”


In terms of category growth, the star performers were Packaged Grocery and Crisps & Snacks, where value growths in the last four weeks were +7.7% and +6.2% respectively.”

Watkins continues: “Retailers are continuing to support sales with vouchers, coupons and fuel discounts in order to drive footfall and attract repeat visit, as shoppers are motivated by the immediate cash saving.

“With food inflation also slowing, the modest improvement in growths, which are currently back to the levels last seen nine months ago, are encouraging.  But it will be the full quarter trend – to the end of March – that will be more indicative of underlying shopper behaviour in 2012.”


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