The turmoil on the stock market that wiped millions of pounds off the value of UK supermarkets over the past two weeks may prove positive for retailers.
Behind this optimism is the suggestion that the grim outlook for US and Eurozone debt could strengthen sterling. A stronger pound would reduce the prices that supermarkets pay for key food commodities and products in international markets.
“It may ease some of the inflationary pressure that we have seen in the UK and reduce the burden on the consumer’s disposable income,” said Espirito Santo analyst Sanjay Vidyarthi. “A stronger pound would also reduce input cost pressures for UK retailers.”
Retailers in general have fared better than the overall market. The FTSE All-Share Food & Drug Retailers Index dropped 5.5% over the past two weeks, while the FTSE 100 plunged more than 13%.
However, the picture for the UK’s listed supermarkets was mixed. Morrisons shares fell by just 4% because of its strong balance sheet, a focus on food and a healthy operating performance. In contrast, Sainsbury’s share price plunged 17%.
Tesco was identified as the only ‘anomaly’. Analysts said its 6% share price drop was surprising given its operational strength and exposure to emerging markets.