Ice cream in summer

July’s weather boosted supermarket sales more than last year’s Olympics

July’s hot weather provided a bigger boost to supermarket sales than 2012’s Olympics, new figures have suggested.

Aggregate sales value growth for the UK’s leading supermarkets during the four weeks to 20 July 2013 was up 6.4% year on year, Nielsen reported yesterday. This was almost twice the level seen during the Olympics, which provided a 3.5% boost, according to Nielsen. July’s sales were also “comfortably ahead of any ‘non-event’ four-week period in the last two years”.

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“The supermarkets basked in the heat and in growth levels not seen for some time, as shoppers stocked up on fresh foods and refreshments,” said Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins.

Unsurprisingly, soft drinks, beers, wines & spirits, and frozen foods showed the biggest sales increases, Nielsen found, with bottled water volumes overtaking Coca-Cola in the week ending 13 July. “At the height of the heat wave, the week ending 13 July, an extra seven Olympic swimming pools-worth of bottled water were sold compared to the first two weeks of July 2012 – worth an extra £15m,” Watkins said.

Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose saw the greatest increase in value sales in the 12 weeks ending 29 July, Nielsen added, up 28.8%, 11.5% and 8.7% respectively.

The figures follow data released by the CBI this week, which also pointed to a boost in sales from the warm weather. A survey of 60 retailers suggested high street sales in July rose at a stronger pace than expected – the first rise since February, although the CBI cautioned that volumes remained below average for the time of year.

“The feel-good factor from the heatwave and early summer sales has helped boost high street sales, after a very weak start to the year,” said CBI director of economics Stephen Gifford.

“A positive knock-on effect on retail sales from the Royal baby has been mooted, but much more realistically, continued good weather and discounts will play a greater role in retail growth over the next month.”