February 17, 2020

‘Monsoon’ weather costs UK supermarkets over £120m in missed sales

Growth in the grocery sector continues to slow, as industry sales increased by just +0.4% in the last four weeks, costing UK supermarkets over £120m in missed sales¹, according to data released today (Tuesday 25 June) by Nielsen.

This slowdown in growth is likely due to the ‘monsoon’ weather experienced by the UK during the last four weeks. The cold and wet conditions caused shoppers to hold back spend and purchase fewer items than they would during warmer weather conditions – as we experienced this time last year.

The Nielsen data shows that over the last 12 weeks, sales at the big four supermarkets were flat or in slight decline, with the strongest sales at The Co-operative (+1.9%), Iceland (+2.2%), Aldi (+9.4%) and Lidl (+15.2%). Tesco continues to dominate in market share (26.5%), but the rising combined market share of Aldi (9.5%) and Lidl (6.4%) places the combined discounters in second position, overtaking Sainsbury’s (14.3%) and Asda (13.6%).

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK Head of Retailer and Business Insight, said: “It’s clear that promotions, events and the vagaries of the weather have a big impact on supermarket sales. The summer trading season stretches 18 weeks from the first May bank holiday to the last week in August. In the first seven weeks of summer 2019, shoppers have so far spent £350m¹ less in supermarkets. This equates to a 2.1% fall in value sales compared to the same time period last year.”

Mr Watkins continues: “This means that for supermarkets to match the same level of sales as last summer, shoppers would now need to spend £26bn during the remaining 11 weeks¹. This looks a tall order as weekly growth is currently down, and we would need a sustained heatwave through to August, as we had last summer, just for the growth at supermarkets to stand still.”

The figures in the table are based on 12 weeks sales through to 15 June 2019 compared with the same 12 week period in 2018
Source: Nielsen Total Till, Nielsen Homescan

All figures are from Nielsen Homescan Total Till unless otherwise stated.

¹ Nielsen Scantrack Grocery Multiples