Gro­ceries rise at fastest rate since 2003

● In­fla­tion be­hind store sales in­crease ● Fam­i­lies could pay an ex­tra £144 a year

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By JOSIE CLARKE

Gro­cery prices rose at their fastest rate in four years over the past three months, with a su­per­mar­ket sales in­crease al­most en­tirely due to in­fla­tion, fig­ures show.

The lat­est rise in food price in­fla­tion - now at 3.4 per cent - means a typ­i­cal fam­ily could pay an ex­tra £144 a year for their gro­ceries if the pace con­tin­ues, Kan­tar World­panel said. Sales across the mar­ket over the 12 weeks to 5 Novem­ber were up 3.2 per cent on last year, but this was al­most all down to the ris­ing rate of in­fla­tion.

Fraser Mck­e­vitt, head of re­tail and con­sumer in­sight at Kan­tar World­panel, said: “Vol­ume sales have in­creased by less than 1 per cent, mean­ing it’s price rises keep­ing su­per­mar­ket per­for­mance buoy­ant.

“Like-for-like gro­cery in­fla­tion now stands at 3.4 per cent, its high­est level since Novem­ber 2013. With the av­er­age shop cur­rently cost­ing £18.26, con­sumers are now pay­ing an ex­tra 62 pence each time and over the course of a year it could add £143.70 to a typ­i­cal fam­ily’s gro­cery bill.”

Most gro­cery prod­ucts were more ex­pen­sive, with prices ris­ing fastest in cat­e­gories such as but­ter, where a milk short­age has pushed up prices, fish and cola.

Prices fell for only a few prod­uct cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing crisps and fresh poul­try.

Prices have been ris­ing since the start of this year fol­low­ing 30 con­sec­u­tive pe­ri­ods of de­fla­tion from Septem­ber 2014 to De­cem­ber 2016 as su­per­mar­kets en­gaged in a fierce price war.

Lidl was Bri­tain’s fastest­grow­ing su­per­mar­ket for the fifth con­sec­u­tive pe­riod, with sales up 15.1 per cent helped by new store open­ings.

Some 10.6 mil­lion house­holds vis­ited Lidl at least once dur­ing the past three months, boost­ing the gro­cer’s mar­ket share by 0.5 per­cent­age points to 5.1 per cent, while sales at Aldi, which at­tracted 11.9 mil­lion house­holds dur­ing the same pe­riod, in­creased by 13.1 per cent to boost mar­ket share to 6.7 per cent.

Con­sumers bought 10.1 mil­lion packs of tra­di­tional Christ­mas bis­cuits in Oc­to­ber as shop­ping for the fes­tive sea­son “well and truly started”, Kan­tar said.

Mr Mck­e­vitt said: “Al­co­hol sales have ramped up too, in­creas­ing by 5.3 per cent year on year as shop­pers parted with an ex­tra £142 mil­lion on their favourite tip­ples.

“The Bri­tish pub­lic is only just get­ting started when it comes to Christ­mas shop­ping, and is ex­pected to shell out a whop­ping £28.7 bil­lion at the gro­cers in the fi­nal 12 weeks of 2017.”

Fig­ures from an­a­lysts Nielsen show Tesco had the fastest grow­ing sales of the big four for the eighth con­sec­u­tive month, up 2.7 per cent year-on-year for the 12 weeks to 4 Novem­ber, no­tice­ably ahead of 2.1 per cent for Sains­bury’s, 1.8 per cent for Mor­risons, and 1.7 per cent for Asda.

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