Dire summer changes shopping

SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2012
MARION VAN DIJK/Fairfax NZ
SHORT SUPPLY: The summer fruits season usually peaks in January but this year it was about mid February and for some fruits the season was very poor.

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Sunscreen, salads, summer fruit and icecream have been left in the shade as our inclement summer drove New Zealanders to stock up on soups, cough and cold medicines, flannelette sheets and mince.

Figures from our two major supermarket players, Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises, show the products that normally sell well during winter have been flying off our shelves this summer.

Apart from a few lucky spots in the South Island, much of the country has had a constant diet of rain, cloud and wind this season.

Progressive Enterprises spokesman Luke Schepen said items such as soups, frozen vegetables, breakfast muesli, oats, hosiery, flannelette sheets and condensed milk had been selling well.

"They usually sell well in winter but there has been a noticeable increase in sales of those items and we are certainly putting it down to the cooler climate."

The sales of beef mince have been about 10 per cent more than last summer, he said.

Foodstuffs group communications director Antoinette Shallue said the number of cough and cold products sold between November and January was up by 24 per cent compared with the previous year but sun-care sales for the same period were down 20 per cent.

Soup sales were far better this summer than they had been last autumn and were up overall by more than 10 per cent compared with last summer.

Shallue said the "entire icecream category", including ice blocks was down 20 per cent between October and December.

"There was a noticeable impact on ice blocks and non-icecream products – the sort of thing you would have when it's really hot."

And to prove that we really are looking for comfort food when the weather is cloudy, sales of frozen chickens were well up, especially whole chicken.

"Does this suggest people are having more roast chicken dinners due to the cold weather this summer? Possibly," she said.

Summer fruits such as watermelon and rockmelon had been badly affected by weather so were in short supply and the rest of the summer fruit season had been delayed because of the weather. Shallue said the summer fruits season usually peaks in January but this year it was about mid February.

Schepen said our appetite for beer, water and soft drinks was noticeably reduced.

"Many people are actually asking how this summer could get any worse, and that sentiment is showing in what we buy."

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