United Kingdom: Fastest turnover gains ever during Corona stress

Tesco store. Photo: Shutterstock
March 2020 was the biggest month ever in UK grocery sales as shoppers stocked up amid the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Shutterstock
By Reidar Molthe

2 April 2020 10:44

United Kingdom: Fastest turnover gains ever during Corona stress

Latest grocery market share figures from Kantar show year-on-year supermarket sales grew by the fastest rate in over a decade during the 12 weeks to 22 March – increasing by 7.6%.

However, the rate of growth in the most recent four weeks was nearly three times higher at 20.6%, making March the biggest ever month of grocery sales as shoppers stocked up amid the coronavirus crisis.

Grocery sales amounted to £10.8bn during the past four weeks – even higher than levels seen at Christmas, the busiest time of the year under normal circumstances!

Growth was found to be primarily driven by people making additional shopping trips and buying slightly more each time, rather than people panic paying in one hit.

The average household spent an extra £62.92 during the past four weeks, equivalent to adding five days worth of groceries. Shoppers in London, where the outbreak is reported to be a few weeks ahead of other regions, increased their spending the most, up by 26% during the month, according to Kantar, a consultancy.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, commented:

“It’s inevitable that shoppers will add extra items to their baskets when faced with restrictions on their movement and possible isolation if one of them becomes unwell, but many families are also adjusting to having more mouths to feed. Those with children over the age of 16 spent £508 this month on average, £88.13 more than they did in March 2019 – a trend that likely reflects students returning home from college and university. With restaurants and cafés now closed, none of us can eat meals ‘on the go’ any longer and an extra 503 million meals, mainly lunches and snacks, will be prepared and eaten at home every week for the foreseeable future.”

Convenience stores appeared to benefit from people shopping more often and government guidance to stay closer to home. Collectively, smaller branches of the major retailers and independently-owned outlets increased their share of spend to 13.3%, growing sales by 30% compared with the same four weeks a year ago.

Grocery spend online was 13% higher than the same period in 2019 with the average online basket size hitting £81.88 this month, over £6 more than in March 2019. However, limited delivery slots meant that only 14.6% of households received an online delivery in the past four weeks, up from 13.8% in the same period last year.

Brick & Mortar

Kantar’s data showed most people relied on the full-size, bricks & mortar stores operated by Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Aldi and Lidl.

They took 76% of spend through their tills in the past four weeks, with sales 19% higher than March 2019.

The discounters continued to make strong gains amidst the turmoil. Lidl’s sales were up 17.6% during the 12 weeks, as its market share increased by 0.5 percentage points to 6.1%, while Aldi reached a new record high market share of 8.2%, growing sales by 11.0%.

Less panic shopping then expected

Despite a temporary halt on deliveries to new customers in March; Ocado, the online specialist, still acquired 133,000 new shoppers during the 12-week period, helping it boost sales over the same period by 12.5%.

“While much-reported panic buying has been concentrated to a relatively low number of individuals so far, we anticipate that this too will subside as consumers gain confidence in the retailers’ abilities to maintain grocery supplies and keep stock on the shelves,” Fraser McKevitt concludes.

Sources: Kantar, Namnews, Kamcity.com

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