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Grocery spending slows as shoppers dine out during August

By Abigail Townsend

Date: Tuesday 15 Sep 2020

Grocery spending slows as shoppers dine out during August

(Sharecast News) - Around £155m was wiped off UK grocery sales in August, industry research showed on Tuesday, as consumers took advantage the government's Help Out to Eat Out scheme and the easing of lockdown restrictions.
According to retail consultancy Kantar, take home grocery sales rose by 10.8% in the 12 weeks to 6 September, the fifth consecutive period of double-digit growth.

However, year-on-year sales growth in the most recent four weeks slowed to 8.0%, the slowest rate since April.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight, attributed the slowdown to people being encouraged out of their homes and the launch of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme on 1 August. According to the government, more than 100m meals out were consumed under the month-long scheme.

"Diners' confidence built throughout the month, and footfall increased during each week of the scheme, culminating in the final bank holiday Monday, when dining out accounted for a two and half time's greater share of consumer spend that the pre-Covid average," McKevitt said.

"Fewer meals eaten at home meant consumers spent £155m less in supermarkets in the four weeks to 6 September compared with July."

Take home alcohol sales were also lower, with wine down 5% and beer 10%, as people returned to pubs and bars.

Online grocery sales continued to perform well, rising 77% year-on-year in the past four weeks. The cumulative increase in online orders since the start of lockdown is now £3.2bn. However, the pace of growth appears to be easing, with sales slowing to 12.5% of total sales in August from a peak of 13.5% in July.

Ocado, which ended its association with Waitrose in favour of Marks & Spencer on 1 September, was the fastest growing of any of the grocers over the past 12 weeks. Sales were up by 41.2%.

Kantar said Waitrose.com had experienced the fastest year-on-year online growth of any retailer, with the supermarket's overall sales rising by 7.3% year-on-year.

Tesco saw its sales increase by 10.5%, Sainsbury's by 8.0% and Asda by 6.3%, Kantar said.

The data echoed that published by Nielsen, also on Tuesday. It reported strong demand for internet shopping, with online sales of fast moving consumer goods up by 102%, while bricks and mortar sales eased 1.6%.

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said: "The growth of online shopping continues to put pressure on stores. While there are still shoppers trying online for the first time, the growth of online is now being driving by bigger spends and more transactions.

"With more Covid-19 headwinds set to come and a fragile economy, a weakened shopper sentiment will likely start to impact consumer spend overall. Many retailers are re-positioning their strategies, launching new ad campaigns and focusing on price cuts." According to Kantar, promotional activity is now at its highest level since February.

In the 12 weeks to 5 September, Nielsen said Iceland was the fastest-growing retailer, up 16.3%, just ahead of Morrisons, at 10.4%, and Aldi at 8.7%.

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