Supermarket sales increased during the first three months of the year despite much of the UK being battered by the Beast from the East snowstorm.

Grocery revenues climbed 2.5% during the 12 weeks to March 25, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel, as shoppers stockpiled ahead of the cold snap.

The earlier fall of Easter and an average 35p increase in Easter egg prices also boosted supermarket sales during the period.

Inflation across other core Easter lines, including hot cross buns, offset the negative impact of shoppers visiting stores 5% less during the period.

Kantar said retailers only lost out on £22m in grocery sales as a result of the disruption to shopping habits. 

Discounters continue to grow

Tesco and Morrisons emerged as the fastest-growing members of the big four during the 12-week period, both enjoying a 2.4% sales increase.

Asda posted a 1.8% uplift, while Sainsbury’s grew sales slower than any of its mainstream rivals, registering a 0.6% uptick.

Discount duo Aldi and Lidl were again the fastest-growing grocery retailers, recording sales gains of 10.7% and 10.3% respectively.

The impact of the Co-op’s sale of 298 stores to McColl’s has now annualised, which allowed the c-store specialist to inch back into positive territory, growing sales 0.1%.

Iceland suffered contrasting fortunes, though, as the frozen food specialist’s run of two consecutive years of sales growth came to a halt with a 0.8% dip in revenues.

Rival data from Nielsen anointed Tesco as the fastest-growing grocer with a 3.1% spike, but suggested Asda was its closest rival.

The Walmart-owned retailer posted a 2.9% climb during the 12 weeks to March 24, Nielsen data said.

Morrisons’ sales grew 1.8%, while Sainsbury’s again lagged its main rivals with a 1% increase.

Nielsen data found Lidl to be the fastest-growing grocer with a 12.5% sales uplift, ahead of Aldi’s 11.3%.

Supermarkets ‘adapting well’

Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight Mike Watkins said: “The winter weather in late February and early March certainly disrupted shopping patterns but not enough to knock food retail out of its stride because its underlying health remains strong.

“This is built on the big four supermarkets having adapted well to changing market conditions and consumer behaviour, and the sector has effectively seen 13 straight months of growth above 2%.

“This is in stark contrast to non-food retail who are still adapting to their changing marketplace.”