Summer sun and price cuts drive best quarter for food sales since 2013

Helen Cahill
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Discounters have been driving stiff price competition in supermarkets (Source: Getty)

The food sector has had its best quarter of sales in two years, according to new figures.

Like-for-like sales across all retail categories increased 0.4 per cent year-on-year in September, according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG.

Read more: Rosé wine, gin and ice cream sales gave Waitrose a summer boost last week

Food sales increased 1.6 per cent annually on a three-month basis, the best performance since November 2013. Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG, said this was due to the ongoing supermarket price war and summer temperatures lasting into the first month of autumn.

"As we move into the all-important golden quarter at the end of the year, retailers will be looking to make the run up to Christmas, including Black Friday, a success," Martin said.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: "September saw the consumer confidence index restored to levels seen before the EU referendum in June which did translate into a willingness to spend on bigger ticket items.

"However, the monthly outturn continues to highlight ongoing volatility in retail spending and to reflect longer-term economic headwinds as retailers begin to seek to mitigate the impact of higher import costs due to the fall in the value of the pound."

Read more: Lobby group urges government to keep consumer costs low post-Brexit

Data from Barclaycard showed that overall spending increased 3.6 per cent in the third quarter as consumer confidence bounced back from its trough following the Brexit vote.

Pub and restaurant spend was up 17.3 per cent and 14.9 per cent respectively, according to Barclaycard, but consumers were less keen to visit department stores; spend in department stores fell 4.6 per cent.

Paul Lockstone, managing director at Barclaycard, said: "For the first time since Barclaycard began tracking consumer confidence in 2014, more people now tell us they feel confident about the UK economy than those who don’t, and the proportion has jumped since the EU Referendum vote in June.

"This recovery in confidence, combined with the warmer September weather, helped to prolong the summer feeling amongst consumers last month. Increased spend on experiences, and in particular with friends and family in pubs and restaurants, delivered one of the strongest months for spend growth so far this year."

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