Sales volumes across the UK’s 10 leading grocery chains have fallen for the first time since last December, with the “unpredictable” weather being blamed.

  • Sales volumes at leading supermarkets slip 0.3%
  • Sales by value down 1.1%across the sector
  • Big four continue to drag down overall performance

The volume of items purchased slid 0.3% in the four weeks ending 15 August, driven by declines in soft drinks, frozen foods and general merchandise, Nielsen reported.

The value of sales at the tills fell 1.1%, the fourth decline in the last five periods.

“The disappointing growth figures reflect the continuing unpredictable summer weather as well as the underlying deflation in retail prices,” said Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins.

Nielsen’s figures shows all the big four supermarkets suffered a decline in year-on-year sales. Sainsbury’s had the smallest fall of -0.5%, while Asda had the largest at -3.4%.

Discounters Lidl and Aldi saw a 14.8% and 22.6% rise in sales by value, as well as an increase in market share, while Iceland recorded a 0.4% sales rise.

Kantar reported earlier this week that the frozen food chain had recorded its strongest sales growth in over a year after switching its marketing approach to focus on premium products.

Nielsen also found that Lidl was the biggest spender on advertising for the sixth consecutive month, shelling out £3.7m in the four weeks.

But Watkins noted: “It’s interesting to see there’s also been a movement away from price-based messaging in TV and press ads.

“In a renewed attempt to gain market share, retailers are starting to differentiate themselves by highlighting their range and service credentials – not just lower prices and value for money, which are fairly homogenous offerings in times of price deflation.”