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Back to business for grocery sector after bumper summer

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Following a bumper summer of spending, consumers have returned to their regular shopping behaviours and more usual levels of grocery spend, according to Nielsen data released today.

Over the last four weeks ending 8 September, value growths slowed to +2.4% and volume growth for grocery multiples fell back to 0%. Many shoppers still being on holiday in late August also contributed to a return to normal for industry sales growth.

This summer was one for the record books: the six-week long heatwave from the end of June to mid-August makes it the joint hottest summer, a title it shares with the summer of 1976 and, more recently, 2003 and 2006. The summer brought with it the hot weather and volume growth of 1.4% over the last 12 weeks. The beginning of September and the ‘back to school’ period prompted shoppers to return to usual shopping behaviours and expected levels of grocery spend.

The summer period is important for retailers, accounting for 23% of all annual grocery sales each year and is an opportunity to drive additional sales. This summer was particularly strong owing to scorching hot weather and major sporting events like the World Cup. Such events increased footfall to food and drink retailers and got shoppers into the celebratory mood with alfresco dining and viewing parties.

Over the last 12-week period, there were 1.5% more visits than during the same period a year ago, while the level of in-store promotions remained stable at 26% of sales. Many of these promotions were also relevant to ’summer shopping’ and were targeted at incremental spend in categories such as alcoholic and soft drinks, where 35% and 28% (respectively) of sales were promoted. The same was true for the confectionery and delicatessen categories (33% and 28% respectively). This encouraged shoppers to spend more across the total store during each visit, with total sales up 3.8% over the last 12 weeks.




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