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Grocery sales jump at record pace

By Sean Farrell

Date: Wednesday 27 May 2020

Grocery sales jump at record pace

(Sharecast News) - Grocery sales jumped 14.3% - the fastest pace on record - in the 12 weeks to mid-May as households stocked up during the Covid-19 crisis and let their hair down on the VE Day bank holiday.
The sales increase was the most rapid since comparable records began in 1994. The period included panic buying as the coronavirus pandemic spread and the period after the government's lockdown, which kept most households at home.

In the four weeks to 17 May grocery sales growth accelerated to 17.2% as households bought alcohol and barbecue food during hot weather in the run-up to the VE Day bank holiday, the Kantar survey showed. The period also covered the start of the government relaxing lockdown rules.

The busiest shopping day of the month was 7 May, the day before the Friday bank holiday to mark VE day. With pubs and restaurants closed, sales of alcohol rose by half and frozen confectionery sales rose 40%. Shoppers spent an extra £17m on burgers and £24m more on sausages from a year earlier.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: "The most recent three-month period now includes both the pre-lockdown rush to the shops in March, and eight weeks of stay-at-home advice from government - a combination which has resulted in the fastest growth in take-home grocery sales for over 25 years."

The biggest gainer of the grocers in the 12-week period was online operator Ocado where sales rose 32.5% as shopping shifted to the internet. Not far behind was the mutually owned Co-operative group, whose sales rose 30.8%.

Tesco had the most growth of the big grocers with a 12.7% sales increase, closely followed by Sainsbury's whose sales rose 12.5%. By contrast Asda sales rose just 6.5% and Morrisons' were up 9.8%/. Lidl's sales rose 16.5% and Aldi's gained 10.4%. Iceland's sales jumped 28.6%.

The biggest gainers overall were "symbols and independents", which includes brands such as Spar and Londis, where sales rose 63%.

Online sales have increased by 75% and internet shopping has attracted more new shoppers in 2020 than in the preceding five years.

"While the gains made by online shopping are unlikely to be sustained at these levels, the crisis has certainly accelerated the move towards online," McKevitt said. "The grocers have attracted a new group of customers, in particular older demographics, and we expect some of them may continue using online services and enjoying the convenience that home delivery provides."

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