Boost for UK supermarkets as Brits celebrate summer, sport and staycations

  • Total Till sales over the last four weeks ending 17th July reach -1.3%, an improvement on -2.4% in June and -2.7% in the four weeks to 22nd May when hospitality reopened 
  • Delicatessen is the fastest growing category over the last four weeks as Brits splash out on rotisserie, sandwiches and coleslaw to enjoy socialising and the beginning of a summer of sport  
  • Online share of sales remain robust at 13.4%, suggesting a new normal for grocery shopping has been established

Total Till sales reached -1.3% versus the same period in 2020 over the last four weeks ending 17th July 2021, an improvement on -2.4% in June and -2.7% in the four weeks to 22nd May when hospitality venues first reopened, reveals new data released today by NielsenIQ. The slight uptick in sales is attributed to the rising demand for fresh foods as Brits had more opportunities to socialise with friends and family and to enjoy outdoor eating and drinking.

The start of a recent heatwave, an increase in travel, summer sport and the growth in UK staycations all contributed to an uptick in supermarket sales. This is particularly prevalent in the final week ending 17th July, where sales increased by +1.5%1 – the highest weekly growth since the week ending 12th June (+3.2%).

With more occasions to socialise and celebrate in groups, UK supermarkets experienced a shift in category spend, with delicatessen the fastest growing category (+9.4%) over the four week period. This was driven by sales of rotisserie (+43%), sandwiches (+31%), freshly prepared fruit (+27%), prepared pasta salads (+15%) and coleslaw (+8%). This was complemented by rising sales within bakery (+9.4%), which was the second fastest growing category. In contrast there continues to be a move away from cupboard food with packaged grocery sales falling 9%1.

Sales of lager grew by +22% within the week ending 17th July 1 as Brits stocked up for the Euro 2020 final on the previous Sunday. However, overall category sales for beers, wines and spirits within the full four week period declined by -6% compared with the same period last year. This is in line with market expectations considering the closure of all hospitality venues for most of this period a year ago.

NielsenIQ data also reveals that in the last four weeks ending 17th July, in-store sales declined by -1.7%, this is despite a 11% growth in store visits over the period. Moreover, online grocery sales fell by 3.6%. However, online continues to maintain its market share of 13.4% for all FMCG similar to the 13.6% a year ago, suggesting that post-pandemic ‘new normal’ shopping behaviours are starting to emerge.

When compared to 2019, FMCG growths in the last four weeks are +7.6% which is an indication of the underlying demand.

Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s UK Head of Retailer and Business Insight, said: “The year-to-date growth among the Grocery Multiples is currently at 3%1, which shows promise for the upcoming summer period. The continued demand for staycations and hopefully good summer weather will certainly put retailers in a strong position to gain incremental sales, with fresh and chilled foods as well as drinks expected to be popular categories with shoppers.”

Watkins concludes: “However, there are two possible headwinds on the horizon. The first is that as consumer demand increases in recreation and leisure, this will dampen FMCG spend. The second, is that 4 in 10 households2 are now watching their spend more than they did before the pandemic, and should shoppers start to tighten wallets then retailers and brands would be under pressure to drive sales with promotions and price cuts. Looking ahead, and assuming economic activity will be close to pre Covid levels after the summer, we can then expect further normalisation of total till spend later in the year with the full year growths probably in the range of -1.5% to +1.5%.”

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