Vaccinated shoppers help boost UK supermarket sales

by | Apr 27, 2021

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Take-home grocery sales are continuing to grow, industry data showed on Tuesday, as the ongoing vaccine rollout and easing of lockdown restrictions boost demand.
According to the latest grocery market share figures from Kantar, take-home grocery sales rose 5.7% over the 12 weeks to 18 April, as people returned to supermarkets. In the four weeks to 18 April, sales were ahead 6.5%.

The last four weeks were the busiest in-store for grocers for more than a year, with the number of trips rising 4% in April compared to March. Older shoppers – who were some of first people to get vaccinated – accounted for nearly half of the footfall.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “There is a growing sense that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, and people are becoming more comfortable with venturing out to the supermarket.

“The return to overall sales growth in the latest four-week period also reflects what was happening in April 2020, a highly unusual month for grocery shopping. After the initial pre-lockdown rush, this time last year was comparatively quiet.”

However, McKevitt added that the reopening of hospitality on 12 April was likely to have a knock-on effect for retailers.

“Sales of alcohol grew by just 1% in latest four weeks, as people now have the option of eating and drinking out of the home again,” he said.

Online shopping also took a hit, with the share of groceries ordered via the interview slipping to 13.9% in the most recent four-week period, compared to a peak of 15.4% in February. Convenience stores also saw sales fall, down 19% in the last month.

Among individual supermarkets, Asda was the fastest growing of the big four, with its share of the market increasing 0.4 percentage points to 14.8%, following sales growth of 8.0%.

Tesco reported a market share of 27.0% on sales growth of 6.4%; J Sainsbury’s sales were up 6.0% and its market share unchanged at 15.3%; while Wm Morrison’s market share came in at 10.0% after sales rose 7.2%.

Ocado’s market share stands at 1.8%, with sales growth slowing to 27.5%.

Grocery inflation, meanwhile, was -0.3% in the 12 weeks to 18 April, the first fall since December 2016. McKevitt said: “This is largely down to promotions, as retailers prioritised filling shelves over running deals last year. Compared with April 2020, an extra £582m of groceries were sold on offer, most of which were straightforward price cuts.”

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