Salad sales slow as poor weather takes its toll on Northern Ireland grocers
Retailers in Northern Ireland have reported slowing sales of summer foods like salads as people turn to comforting products like cheese to cope with the disappointing summer.
Grocers enjoyed only modest growth of 1.4% year on year over the quarter to June 16, largely down to last year's bumper summer, which included soaring temperatures and the build-up to the men's FIFA World Cup, according to analysts Kantar.
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of trade body Retail NI, said members were used to responding to disappointing summer weather.
But he said butchers in particular would be feeling the pinch. A heatwave this time last year brought a surge in custom as people sought out meat for barbecueing. And the lack of a similar boom this year would hit their suppliers, he said.
He added: "Retail isn't in crisis as a result, but there's no doubt it has an effect on the supply chain."
And Mark Brown, the owner of Arcadia delicatessen on Belfast's Lisburn Road, said customers were notably turning away from typically summery foods like salads in favour of comfort food like good-quality cheeses.
"People aren't spending money on salads and cold cuts, but they are buying cheese."
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However, he said that in anticipation of better weather over the next few days, he was drafting in more staff to help prepare salads. "We're always trying to find different ways of attracting customers - that's why we've been in business for 86 years."
According to Kantar, UK ice cream sales in the last month were £15m lower than the same time last year, beer was down £17m and burgers fell £6m.
Instead, shoppers turned to comfort food as the rain fell, with fresh and tinned soup sales up by 8% and 16% respectively.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: "The modest level of current growth is thanks in no small part to the wet start to the summer, with last year's heatwave and the run-up to the men's FIFA World Cup making 2018 a difficult year to top."
Aldi attracted 883,000 more shoppers over the quarter, extending its market share by 0.5 percentage points on last year to 7.9%. Lidl also enjoyed another strong period, with sales up by 7.5% and market share reaching 5.7%.