June’s soaring temperatures boosted supermarket sales by record levels and sent overheated Britons in search of ice cream.
Research firm Nielsen said major retailers enjoyed the largest annual revenue rise for four years, up 4% compared to June last year.
Sales of hand-held ice creams rose by 24% as the UK basked in its hottest June since 1976.
More people also dined al fresco, with demand for quiche up 11%.
Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, said: “The early summer weather gave supermarkets a much-needed shot in the arm.”
A separate report from research firm Kantar World panel pointed to inflation as the driver behind the fast growth in grocery sales, in addition to the warmer weather.
Kantar’s figures suggested an even sharper rise in sales, up 5%, comparing the 12 weeks to mid-June with the same period in 2016.
Grocery prices rose 3.2% over that period, said Fraser McKevitt, Kantar Worldpanel’s head of retail and consumer insight, which amounted to an extra £133 on the average household’s annual shopping bill.
“Butter and fish fans will be feeling price increases most keenly; butter is almost 20% more expensive than last year while farmed salmon supply issues have been among the factors contributing to a 14% price rise across fresh and tinned fish,” said Mr McKevitt.
All four of the UK’s biggest supermarkets reported higher sales over the three months to mid-June compared to the same period last year – the first time this has happened for about four years. Nielsen’s figures suggested Tesco was the biggest riser with trade up 4.2%, while Kantar’s figures put it at a more modest 3.5% with Morrisons growing more rapidly at 3.7%.
Outside the big four supermarket chains, sales growth was also boosted by the hot weather. According to Nielsen, Iceland’s sales for the three months rose by 9%.
At the other end of the market, Nielsen said both Waitrose and Marks & Spencer also attracted more customers, with revenues up by 4.5% and 6.2% respectively.
Mr Watkins said: “Looking ahead, a continuation in both the warm and dry weather and creeping inflation means growth should be maintained at around 3% for at least the next few weeks.”