Hot weather and the ongoing summer of sport bolstered supermarket sales as the grocery sector delivered its biggest sales jump in four years.

The amount that shoppers spent on groceries in the four weeks to July 15 rose 5.1% year on year, delivering the highest sales hike in at least four years for the second consecutive month.

According to Nielsen, sales peaked during the week ending June 24, when sales leapt 7.1%.

Shoppers’ number of grocery trips during the period increased 4% and sales of ice cream, alcohol mixers and fresh beef burgers rose 45%, 44% and 29% respectively during the month.

All grocers posted a rise in sales year on year for the second time since July 2013.

Tesco delivered the strongest performance out of the big four, with sales up 2.8%, while Iceland posted the biggest sales rise outside of the discounters as its sales spiked 7.8%.

Of the big four grocers, Asda, whose sales edged up 0.4%, was the worst-performing.

Aldi and Lidl’s sales rose 15.2% and 17.5% respectively and Marks & Spencer reported a 4.1% sales increase during the period.

Pull factors

Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins said: “Various factors typically drive extra spend in grocery shopping – more disposable income, more promotions, peak events and changes in weather, and lifestyle.

“However, the first two have been falling in recent times, which shows the impact that hot weather and big sporting events – such as Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix, the British and Irish Lions rugby and the women’s cricket World Cup – had on people’s purse strings.

“This combination encourages shoppers to spend more, particularly on fresh foods and to use convenience stores more often, with the likelihood of eating and drinking outside also increasing as people are more inclined to indulge and treat themselves.”

Kantar data

Rival data from Kantar Worldpanel showed that Lidl was, once again, Britain’s fastest growing supermarket, increasing sales by 19.4% – its strongest growth since October 2014.

Its market share has in turn risen to a record high of 5.1%, bringing it in line with Waitrose for the first time, which also has a market share of 5.1%. 

Close behind, Aldi’s sales grew by 17.9%, increasing its share of the market by 0.8 percentage points to 7.0%.