Retail

Weather Overtakes Inflation In Driving UK Grocery Sales Boost In May – NIQ

By Sarah O'Sullivan
Weather Overtakes Inflation In Driving UK Grocery Sales Boost In May – NIQ

Total till sales in UK supermarkets remained strong in May at +3.3% growth for the four weeks ending 18 May 2024, according to data from NielsenIQ (NIQ).

This is in line with figures reported last month (+3.4%) and is attributed to a period of hot weather in the week ending 11 May.

This pushed value growths at the supermarkets to +5.1% – a two-month high with the exception of Easter – as British shoppers sought to enjoy the sunshine.

Sales figures are in line with expectations given that supermarkets were competing against high comparatives from last year.

This included a double Bank Holiday, the King’s Coronation and consistently warm weather.

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The single week of hot weather helped lift FMCG volume unit growth +1.8% at major supermarkets over the four-week period.

UK shoppers splashed out on ice cream (+55%), cider (+32%), pre-mixed alcoholic drinks (+28%) and mineral water (+26%) in May.

With the warmer weather, suncare saw an increase of +96%, as did hayfever treatments (+49%).

Store Visits

NIQ’s data showed that store visits increased by +2.8% in the four-week period, equating to an additional 14.3 million visits compared to last year.

Although this led to fewer shoppers using the online channel, those that did shopper more often with the number of online orders increasing by +4.1%.

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The online share of FMCG slightly improved to 13.0%, up from 12.7% a year ago.

With more shoppers out and about in the sun, the convenience channel saw a lift of +3.9%.

According to NIQ, there was no change in terms of spending on promotion over the last four weeks, with spend remaining at 25%.

This averaged 36% for brands, up from 33% last year, and 16% for private label items, up from 15% last year.

In terms of retailer growth, Ocado led (+12.4%), followed by M&S (+7.4%), Sainsburys (+6.0%), and Tesco (+5.4%).

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‘Remain Agile’

Speaking about the results, NIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins said, “Over the last four weeks we’ve noticed that it was the warm weather which helped to move the dial in terms of shopper spending at the UK supermarkets, more so than food inflation, which is expected to remain at around 3% for the next few months.

“Despite this, many shoppers are still faced with limits to their discretionary spend, and this is having an impact on certain categories, so retailers must focus efforts on driving food and drink sales.

“With weather being such a big factor in driving shopping behaviour, trading over the next few weeks will be challenging as last year marked the hottest June on record.”

Watkins added, “Yet we do have a summer of sport to look forward to with at least 45% of UK households interested in the UEFA Euro 2024 tournament, this should kick start sales again.

“Our data shows that of these, 69% plan to watch the matches at home by themselves or with other household members, meaning this could be a boon for supermarket sales of drinks, snacks and food for event-driven categories, such as barbecues.”

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He concluded, “Given that we have seen that shoppers were responsive to a week of sunny weather in May, retailers and suppliers will need to remain agile to respond to this with relevant promotions and good availability when summer finally arrives.”

Read More: UK Grocery Inflation Falls Below 3% – Kantar

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