Recession shopping habits continue to drive traditional grocery sales in independent stores

The independent sector continues to be buoyant with a growth in sales of 5.7% in September according to SalesOut, which has analysed purchasing data from 5,000 independent stores, including 3,000 in symbol groups.

This strong performance was particularly driven by sales of tobacco, wines & spirits, soft drinks and pet care, all of which achieved above-average growth.

Commercial director Steve Collins comments: "Traditional categories in which SalesOut has previously reported strong growth such as canned goods, home baking and biscuits continue to perform well. This underlines the propensity for consumers to shop locally and more regularly in the recession, and to widen their range of purchases in the independent sector. Conversely, beer continues to significantly underperform, due to continued pricing pressure from the multiples."

This month, SalesOut's category health check focuses on soup, which has recorded 15% year-on-year growth in the independent sector.

"The soup category continues to be dominated by the big brands, which account for 96% of total sales," says Collins. "Heinz is performing particularly well, and has experienced growth of 24%.

"Canned soup continues to dominate the market, accounting for almost 80% of total sales, but significant growth is also occurring in pouched products. Low calorie and healthy soups have significantly underperformed because mainstream products now have reduced fat and salt content."

It is important that stores offer a range that covers every sub-category: canned, dry, pouched, regular, condensed and low calorie/healthy. Based on the top-selling products in this category, SalesOut recommends 34 lines, which between them account for 60% of total soup sales in the independent sector.

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