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Heatwave Propels U.K. Grocery Sales by 6.4 Percent in July

U.K. grocery sales rose sharply as the summer heatwave boosted demand for barbecues, soft drinks and frozen food.

Growth in sales value at the U.K.’s biggest supermarkets surged 6.4 percent in the four weeks ended July 20, the Nielsen market research company said in a report today. That compares with an increase of 2.3 percent in the previous four-week period. The growth rate was almost twice that achieved by supermarkets during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Sales of soft drinks and alcohol accounted for the largest growth segment, followed by frozen food and fresh produce as temperatures in the U.K. topped 28 degrees for 17 consecutive days, the longest spell of that type since 1995. Budget grocer Aldi had the biggest increase in sales in the 12-week period ended July 20, with Lidl and upmarket grocers Waitrose Ltd. and Marks & Spencer Group Plc also outpacing rivals.

“Waitrose and M&S, in particular, benefited from shoppers’ appetite for fresh foods in July, as did Sainsbury, who also increased market share in the last four weeks,” Mike Watkins, Neilsen’s U.K. head of retailer and business insight, said in the statement. “Aldi’s momentum continued,” while Tesco Plc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc-owned Asda “didn’t benefit as much from the surge in spend that the summer weather delivered for some other retailers.”

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