Jubilee bank holiday gives UK grocery sales a boost as convenience leads on FMCG

Jubilee bank holiday has given UK grocery sales a boost as they return to growth for the first time since Christmas 2021, with 20% of of the UK preparing to spend more over the four-day Jubilee weekend.

UK grocery sales showed the first sign of positive growth in 2022 as they rebounded by 0.6% over the four-week period ending 21 May 2022, according to the latest data from NielsenIQ.

With household budgets still under pressure from the cost of living crisis and soaring inflation, the data also reveals that consumers are’shopping around’ for the best prices, with visits to stores up by 7% year-on-year. As a result, sales in bricks and mortar supermarkets are up by 2%.

Despite the increase in store visits, the online share of FMCG sales remains broadly stable at 11.7% – compared to 13.7% a year ago and 11.8% in April, indicating that online shopping behavior has normallyised since March.

However, the convenience channel has outperformed supermarkets with a 3.7% growth in sales in the last four weeks, and now accounts for 24% of all FMCG sales.

The increase in this channel highlights the change in consumer behavior, as consumers spend more on the go, at work or socialising and are reverting to shopping’little and more often’.

The overall growth in sales was also helped by a + 2.3% increase in the week ending 21 May, as UK consumers prepared for the school holidays and the long bank holiday Jubilee weekend. Some 20% of households are expected to buy extra groceries as they prepare to celebrate across the four-day Jubilee bank holiday weekend.

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Sales of pet and pet care products grew by 11.9%, while soft drink sales were also up by 11.2% with Sports and Energy drinks sales increasing 21%. Clothing was up by 11%, while health, beauty and baby care products also grew, by 10.4%.

The categories with the biggest declines were beers, wines and spirits, which were down by 12.1%, although this is largely due to Covid-19 comparatives.

While there was an improvement in grocery sales in the last four weeks, NielsenIQ data shows that, overall, shoppers spent 1.2% less at UK supermarkets than they had in April, down to £ 10bn from £ 10.1bn. Overall volume sales also fell by 6%, further reflecting the squeeze on household budgets.

“The forthcoming Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend should give a welcome if short-term boost to grocery sales,” said NielsenIQ’s UK Head of Retailer and Business Insight, Mike Watkins.

“While many shoppers may have been pre-buying items such as drinks and party decorations, the forecasted warm and sunny weather will provide a good trade up opportunity for fresh foods with al fresco dining top of mind for shoppers.

“While this helps superstores with their breadth of range, convenience stores are also likely to benefit from impulse purchasing as they always do when the sun shines.”

“Shoppers are becoming more considered in what they buy and the current challenge for supermarkets is to improve volume growth by getting more items into the shopping basket,” he continued.

“The upside for supermarkets is that shoppers may be more inclined to dine in at home as budgets get squeezed.”

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