BBQ weather and the Royal wedding helped boost sales at UK food retailers in May, although the UK’s second biggest grocer J Sainsbury PLC (LON:SBRY) – which unveiled plans to merge with rival Asda in the month - posted the lowest sales growth.
In the 12 weeks to May 20, Kantar Worldpanel’s industry data showed Sainsbury’s posted sales growth of 1% in the period, well below the grocery market's growth of 2.7%, while its market share dropped 0.2 percentage points to 15.7%.
The UK’s biggest food retailer Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) posted sales growth of 2.2%, with sales at Walmart Inc (NYSE:WMT) owned Asda up 2.8%, and number four player William Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW) sales rose 2.9%, ahead of the overall market.
Kantar said sales of BBQ-related foods like sausages and burgers soared in the period, as did demand for sun cream.
The market research firm’s consumer specialist Chris Hayward commented: “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.”
He added: “The Friday before the day of the wedding and the FA Cup Final experienced a particularly noticeable spike in sales, with grocers clocking in £415 million over the 24 hours.”
March of the discounters
Aside from the ‘Big’ Four’ grocery players, the march of the German discounters continued to be strong.
Over the 12-week period, Lidl was the only bricks and mortar retailer to experience double-digit sales growth – up 10.4% - while Aldi also continued to perform well with sales up 6.7%.
Elsewhere, Co-op experienced sales growth of 1.5%, while Iceland saw its sales increase by 0.8%, and John Lewis-owned Waitrose reported only marginal year-on-year sales growth of 0.3% - with all three seeing market share falls.
Food price inflation up
Meanwhile, other data released overnight showed UK shop prices fell in May by the most since the start of last year, although food price inflation ticked higher.
A survey from the British Retail Consortium showed overall shop prices fell by 1.1% year-on-year, making May the 61st month of prices declining.
But the BRC data highlighted a widening gap between rising prices for food and falling prices for other goods.
Prices of non-food items fell by the most since August 2016, down 2.5% in year-on-year in May, while food inflation picked up to 1.2% from 1.0% in April.