Recent data from NIQ (formerly NielsenIQ) reveals that the late summer and an unexpected heatwave in early September have given a significant lift to UK grocery sales. According to the figures, Total Till sales surged by 10.3% in the four weeks ending 9th September 2023, compared to the same period last year.
Sales Growth Across the Board
During this four-week period, grocery sales at supermarkets increased by 7.2%, peaking at 10.2% in the week ending 9th September, when the UK experienced a heatwave. Volume sales also showed a positive trend, improving to +2.1% for the first time since early May 2023. This suggests a renewed consumer willingness to spend, even as volume sales over the four-week period stabilised at -0.7%, up from -3.8% the previous month.
Fresh Produce Takes the Lead
The warm weather encouraged Britons to shop more for fresh food items. Sales of fresh produce saw a value growth of 11.8%, with volumes increasing by 2.1%. Seasonal foods like tomatoes and lettuce also experienced volume growth.
Over a 12-week period, Total Till growth was 8.9%. Nearly one in three households shopped at M&S, with sales growth of 11.8% aided by new Foodhalls. Tesco and Sainsbury's also gained market share, leveraging their Clubcard and Nectar loyalty schemes to drive growth. However, Aldi and Lidl outperformed all metrics, gaining a market share of 20%.
Shopper Behaviour and Outlook
Mike Watkins, NIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight, noted that while online shopping remains stable, consumers are increasingly visiting physical stores to find the best prices. He also mentioned that as inflation slows, there's a growth in real incomes, and retailers are keen to pass on price cuts to consumers.