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UK supermarket sales recover

News, 04 May 2017
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LONDON: Britons spent an extra £1bn in the 12 weeks ending 23rd of April, compared to last year – thanks to a strong Easter and inflation, new figures reveal.

Data from researcher Kantar Worldpanel show that the UK grocery sector grew 3.7% as all ten major UK retailers saw growth for the first time since 2013, when the sector last saw "like-for-like inflation as high as it is now," according to Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

"A strong Easter also contributed to the market's growth this period," he added. "In the past 12 weeks, British shoppers splashed out £325m on Easter eggs with almost three quarters of the population buying at least one.

"Consumers plumped for more premium confectionery lines this year – the average price paid for an Easter egg rising by 8.6% to £1.65 – while 20m packs of hot cross buns were bought in the Easter week alone."

The figures suggest that new ways of buying are contributing to better-than-average growth, as Ocado, the online grocery retailer, doubled its share since 2014, now accounting for 1.3% of all supermarket sales.

Ocado's growth stands at 10.8% since last year, which, McKevitt noted, was second only to Aldi and Lidl and considerably ahead of the overall online grocery market, which currently has a growth rate of 7.8%.

The German discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl, as well as UK frozen food retailer Iceland, all saw growth ahead of the market. Aldi and Lidl achieved record market shares of 6.9% and 5.0% respectively.

Separate figures from Nielsen found similar growth, with "impulse goods" such as confectionery leading sales growth. Mike Watkins, Nielsen's UK head of retailer and consumer insight, said the figures showed the "underlying health" of the UK supermarket industry.

"Whilst consumers are more likely to be uncertain around spend, we don't expect a dramatic change in grocery shopping behaviour this year," he concluded.

However, the news comes amid reports of a broader threat to the UK food industry. A House of Lords report exploring the implications of Brexit suggested that leaving the EU without a trade deal would put at risk 97% of the UK's food and drink exports, the Guardian reported.

Data sourced from Kantar Worldpanel, Nielsen, Guardian; additional content by WARC staff

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