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Indian summer combines with price war to provide boost for food stores

By Kalyeena Makortoff

Grocery sales rose at their fastest pace since 2013 in the three months to September as supermarket price wars and an Indian summer gave food retailers a boost.

The latest British Retail Consortium-KPMG survey showed food sales rose 1.6% between July and September compared with the same period last year, which is three times the average 12-month rate of 0.5%.

"It was yet another month of positive growth for the grocers. Late summer temperatures combined with shoppers continuing to benefit from the ongoing price war has meant food and drink sales have been in the black for a full quarter - undoubtedly welcome news for the sector," said Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG.

Major UK supermarkets have recently embarked on a fresh round of price cuts in a bid to win back market share amid competition from German upstarts Aldi and Lidl.

Meanwhile, warm weather factors that boosted grocer sales hurt fashion retailers.

The rise in mercury helped drag down non-food sales, which only grew 0.5% over the past three months, compared with the 12-month average growth rate of 1.3%.

Overall, total UK retail sales grew 1%, which is only slightly ahead of the 0.9% average over the past 12 months, and marks the weakest 12-month growth average since BRC-KPMG records began in 1995.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: "Today's figures show a return to sales growth."

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