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UK consumers are shopping little but often as inflation bites

By John Glenday | Reporter

July 26, 2022 | 3 min read

The days of staggering home laden with bags of shopping may be over, according to a new retail survey conducted by NielsenIQ.

Nielsen

Inflation is causing shoppers to tighten their purse strings

Documenting rapidly-evolving consumer behaviors in response to the cost-of-living crisis, Total Till found that while store footfall rose 10% v a year ago, sales volumes conspired to fall 4.1%.

The divergence was driven by a 9.4% decline in fish and poultry sales and a 6.4% fall in packaged grocery items. General household items also witnessed a significant 8.1% contraction in sale volumes. The cutbacks are driven by rampant inflation, currently 9.4%, forcing shoppers to tighten their purse strings, with spend per visit down 5% across all channels as people switch to smaller packs, choose cheaper brands and delay purchases.

Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight, said: “The improvement in top-line sales growth is a combination of increases in inflation, but also some incremental spend due to the weather. But overall, volumes at UK supermarkets are down, which is no surprise given that three quarters (75%) of households have noticed that their normal weekly grocery shop is costing more than it did six months ago, while 34% are cutting back on their grocery purchasing.

“This means that the key battleground for retailers will be on who can attract the most shoppers with inspiring media campaigns to build on the ongoing shopping trend to shop little and more often. This will be important for sustaining growth when shoppers revert to their usual shopping patterns after the holidays and, importantly, cope with even higher household bills.”

Covering the four weeks to July 16, the figures detail a summer surge in spending driven by inflation and the unprecedented heat, with grocery sales up 4.4% as rising prices and unprecedented heat forced consumers to spend more on food and drink.

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