Blog: Dean BestUK grocery leaders meet amid continued consumer caution

Dean Best | 9 October 2012

The leading lights in the UK grocery sector, including the chief executives of Tesco, Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer, convene in London today (9 October) to chew over the tough trading conditions in the sector - and the latest sales data highlights the challenges facing the industry.

At the Lancaster Hotel, senior executives will gather for the IGD's annual convention to hear what the likes of Philip Clarke, Justin King and Marc Bolland believe are the key issues facing the industry.

The conference comes on the day the latest British Retail Consortium / Nielsen sales data is published.

On a three-month weighted average for the period from July to September, food sales increased 3.5%. Like-for-like sales inched up 0.7%.

Last month, the data showed food sales increased 3.7% in the three months between June and August. LFLs were up 0.8%, suggesting a slight slowdown in September.

"September's sales mirrored the changing weather. There was sun at the start, which helped produce the best food and grocery sales week of the month. But this was followed by heavy downpours and the worst September storms for 30 years, with sales tailing off as the month progressed," IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said.

"Shoppers have been on an optimism rollercoaster this year, feeling better about the future in the summer, but becoming more cautious as the nights draw in. Food companies will be hoping for milder weather through the rest of autumn and for themed events, such as Halloween, to help boost sales."

Clarke is first up at the IGD convention this morning, talking about how retailers can "win" in today's tough market, a presentation that suggests he will discuss much of what he outlined at the World Retail Congress last month - and a presentation industry watchers will be interested to hear after Tesco's first-half results last week.

Sainsbury's boss King, who is presiding over a business riding out the downturn more effectively than Tesco, will outline why he believes shoppers should "trust" the sector. Later in the morning, M&S chief Bolland will deliver another presentation on sustainability, no doubt covering some of the themes he has discussed at other public appearances this year.

Not to be left out, Asda and Morrisons will also have senior execs on display. Asda's Judith McKenna and Morrisons' Richard Hodgson will look at consumer engagement later in the day.

But perhaps some of the most interesting insight promises to be from Internet giants Amazon and Google, which will look at the development of the FMCG sector online and the development of the shopping experience.

Stay tuned to just-food for the latest news and views from the event. And you can follow @just_food or @dean_best for live Tweets from the conference.


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