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Overall BWS supermarket sales continue to slide

Published:  27 July, 2021

Beer, wine and spirits (BWS) sales through supermarkets continued to slide in the last four weeks to 17 July, down 6% compared with the same period last year, according to Total Till data from NielsenIQ released today.

The drop in BWS sales was in line with expectations given the closure of all hospitality venues for most of this period a year ago. 

On a more positive note, sales of lager grew by 22% within the week ending 17 July as Brits stocked up for the Euro 2020 final on the previous Sunday.

Overall supermarket sales declined 1.3% versus the same period in 2020 during the period, an improvement on the 2.4% drop recorded the previous four-week period.

NielsenIQ attributed the slight uptick in sales to the rising demand for fresh foods as Brits had more opportunities to socialise and enjoy outdoor eating and drinking.

“The year-to-date growth among the grocery multiples is currently at 3%, which shows promise for the upcoming summer period,” said Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight.

“The continued demand for staycations and hopefully good summer weather will certainly put retailers in a strong position to gain incremental sales, with fresh and chilled foods as well as drinks expected to be popular categories with shoppers,” he said.

However, Watkins warned, there were two “possible headwinds” on the horizon. 

“The first is that as consumer demand increases in recreation and leisure, this will dampen FMCG spend. The second, is that four in 10 households are now watching their spend more than they did before the pandemic, and should shoppers start to tighten wallets then retailers and brands would be under pressure to drive sales with promotions and price cuts.

“Looking ahead, and assuming economic activity will be close to pre Covid levels after the summer, we can then expect further normalisation of total till spend later in the year with the full year growths probably in the range of -1.5% to +1.5%,” he said.

The latest supermarket sales data follows Kantar research released last week that showed a 3% decline in take-home sales of alcohol over the four weeks to 11 July compared with the previous month.