UK Supermarket Sales Fall as People Ease Up on Stockpiling
Industry executives and market analysts have confirmed that supermarket chains have seen a significant downturn in sales over the last couple of weeks following an easing of stockpiling and the introduction of stringent social distancing measures in stores.
At the start of the coronavirus outbreak, total sales at some supermarkets increased by almost 50% with even bigger gains in some categories, according to Namnews.
Senior industry sources quoted by the Mail on Sunday said sales at the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons fell last week by as much as 10% compared with the run-up to Easter last year.
One unnamed director said: “There has been a shocking turnaround. Social distancing measures have been crippling stores compared to the gigantic sales increases over the previous weeks.”
With all the major chains restricting the number of shoppers allowed in their stores at any one time as part of the social distancing measures, queues have been forming outside some supermarkets at peak hours. This is said to have prompted some shoppers to top up in smaller shops and convenience stores.
Another grocery source said: “It’s volatile and it’s going to be difficult to see through this, predict behavior and plan accordingly over the coming weeks as guidelines change.”
Lockdown means a new shopping experience
Mike Watkins, Head of Retailer and Business Insight at Nielsen, said: “With restricted living now the new norm in the UK, the lockdown has also brought a new shopping experience for many consumers. Sales have started to slow, and this can be attributed to the many social distancing measures, such as queues outside, routes through the store, and people shopping alone
This has meant that weekly shops are now more planned. Shoppers want to get in and out as quickly as possible, with less time spent browsing. Availability is also still a challenge as the supply chain continues to play catch up in some areas”, writes Namnews.
Watkins added: “With 56% of UK shoppers believing that the impact of COVID-19 will continue for four to 12 months, weekly sales and shopper behavior will remain very unpredictable for some time. We can expect this pattern to continue for at least the next three to four weeks, and then start to stabilize when the country begins to slowly recover from the lockdown situation.”