Positive year forecast for UK supermarkets

UK supermarkets look set to enjoy a “positive year” despite a shot-term dip in sales after Christmas, according to the latest retail figures from market analysts, Nielsen.

New data released today shows takings at the tills for the four weeks ending January 28 down 1.1% on the same period last year, while the volume of groceries purchased fell by 2.7%. Neither of these figures tell the full story, however, says Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, Mike Watkins (pictured above).

“Partly due to the timing of New Year negatively affecting comparative sales, the figures don’t really reflect how the industry started the year,” he said. “A better indicator is the last three weeks, during which till takings were up by 0.3%.”

Mr Watkins also noted that the return of cold weather in January “probably helped sales” as the possibility of snow meant some shoppers were of a mind to stock-up on supplies, just in case.

“January saw significant price cutting from the retailers to target saving money being high up on shoppers’ agenda post-Christmas,” he added.

As for the rest of 2017, Mr Watkins said: “We anticipate the industry to grow around 2% this year, an improvement on 2016, primarily due to the return of cost price inflation after three years of deflation and the depreciation of sterling.

“The discounters will continue to grow faster than this due to the acceleration of new store openings which could push their market share to 13% for the first ever time.”

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