‘Beast from the east’ cost UK supermarkets £22m

T0e ‘beast from the east’ cost Britain’s supermarkets £22m in lost sales as customers opted to stay warm at home rather than venture out to the shops.

Shoppers made 5% fewer visits to grocery shops during the stormy weather, having stocked their cupboards with warming foods in preparation for the freezing temperatures, according to the data firm Kantar Worldpanel.

“The beast from the east played havoc with consumers’ usual shopping plans,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

Sales of tinned soup rose 27.5% over the last month while hot drink sales increased by 8.4% as people reacted to the colder weather.

However, despite the poor weather, grocery sales increased in value by 2.5% in the first 12 weeks of 2018, compared to the same period last year. Sales rose at all major chains apart from Iceland, where they fell 0.8%.

Supermarket sales over the period were boosted by Easter, which was earlier this year than in 2017. UK shoppers bought nearly 15 million Easter eggs in March according to Kantar, up 69% on the same month last year. Sales of hot cross buns jumped £7.7m.

Discount chains Aldi and Lidl continued to increase their share of the UK grocery market over the first 12 weeks of the year, at the expense of some of the bigger, more established names.

Aldi increased its share to 7.3% from 6.8% a year earlier, while Lidl’s rose to 5.3% from 5%.

Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, held on to the number one spot with a 27.6% share of the market, unchanged from the same period in 2017.

However market share dipped among the remaining three of the so-called ‘big four’ supermarkets – Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons.

Kantar said that supermarket prices were 2.5% higher over the 12 weeks compared with a year earlier, with butter, fish pork and lamb among the sharpest risers. The research firm makes its inflation calculation by comparing the prices of over 75,000 identical products year-on-year.

Grocery market share in the 12 weeks to 25 March 2018 (figures in brackets show market share in the same period a year earlier)

Tesco: 27.6% (27.6%)

Sainsbury’s: 15.8% (16.1%)

Asda: 15.6% (15.8%)

Morrisons: 10.4% (10.5%)

Aldi: 7.3% (6.8%)

Co-op: 6% (6.1%)

Waitrose: 5% (5.1%)

Lidl: 5.3% (5%)

Iceland: 2.1% (2.2%)

Ocado: 1.2% (1.2%)

Other multiples: 1.8% (1.8%)

Independents: 1.7% (2%)