Olympic supermarket sales boost fails to cross the Border

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Scotland’s retailers missed out on any boost in sales ahead of the Olympics as figures released today showed the weakest food sales in 14 years.

Despite signs of stronger growth at supermarkets across the UK, like-for-like food sales north of the Border fell by 2.1 per cent last month as the wet weather continued and shoppers went hunting for bargains, the latest Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and KPMG retail sales monitor found.

Non-food spending also fell, with like-for-like sales down 2.2 per cent on July 2011, despite heavy promotional activity.

SRC economist Richard Lim said: “There’s no sign of any pre-Olympics boost in these figures and cutting back is becoming more widespread.

“Even if people bought party food ahead of the games, they put fewer other things in their trolleys, leaving food spending virtually the same in cash terms as a year ago.”

The Scottish retail figures contrast with those for the UK’s overall supermarket sector, which grew at 3.9 per cent year-on-year in the 12 weeks to 5 August – well ahead of the 2.1 per cent growth reported previously.

Data from Kantar Worldpanel showed sales at market leader Tesco grew by 3.4 per cent, although it lagged behind rivals Asda and Sainsbury’s, which recorded growth of 6.2 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively.

Budget retailers Aldi and Lidl maintained their double-digit growth rates, while, at the other end of the spectrum, upmarket chain Waitrose enjoyed a 7.4 per cent uplift.

Retail analyst Fraser McKevitt said: “Shoppers might not yet notice it at the tills, but they are starting to benefit from lower grocery inflation, with prices now rising at 3.2 per cent – the slowest rate for 18 months.”