London: The controversial vuvuzela plastic horns are selling fast across Britain, helping to boost sales of World Cup-related goods at supermarket chain Sainsbury, the group announced on Wednesday.
Sainsbury said in a trading update that overall group sales slowed in the first quarter of its financial year — but added that World Cup merchandise was performing particularly well.
“Our World Cup range is selling well and our vuvuzela horns are a ‘must have´ item for football fans,” chief executive Justin King said in a trading update.
So far, the retailer has sold more than 40,000 England-branded vuvuzelas, according to a spokeswoman. The plastic horns cost two pounds (€2.4, $2.9) each.
“We had sold 40,0000 of the horns over the weekend,” a company spokeswoman said.
“Overall we originally had anticipated selling 75,000 by the end of the tournament we could possibly reach this target by the time England kick off again on Friday as the vuvuzelas have been so popular.”
England face a must-win encounter with Algeria on Friday as they seek to restore confidence in their ability to make an impact at the World Cup.
The monotone sound of the horns blown by supporters at matches in South Africa, have become an unofficial soundtrack to the World Cup — but have attracted criticism from broadcasters and some players who complain they cannot hear their teammates’ shouts or the referee’s whistle.
“Playing the vuvuzela is a uniquely South African way to celebrate the World Cup, and our customers are really getting into the spirit of things by flocking to buy them,” added the Sainsbury spokeswoman.
“They are being used to create a World Cup atmosphere here in the UK and are adding to people’s enjoyment of the football.”
Sainsbury sold one vuvuzela every two seconds on Saturday, when England played the United States in a game which ended 1-1 after a blunder from England goalkeeper Robert Green gifted the Americans the equaliser.
The British supermarket giant added Wednesday that the group’s total sales excluding petrol, and on a like-for-like basis which strips out the effect of new floor space, rose 1.1% in the 12 weeks to 12 June.
That compared with growth of 7.0% in the first quarter of the group’s previous financial year.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for fierce rival Tesco said it had no current plans to sell vuvuzelas.
Sainsbury’s is the third-biggest supermarket chain in Britain after Wal-Mart owned Asda and the country’s largest retailer Tesco.