UK Grocery Sales Remain Resilient as British Lockdown Eases

By Maev Martin
UK Grocery Sales Remain Resilient as British Lockdown Eases

New data released today by NielsenIQ reveals that the total till sales at UK supermarkets remain largely unchanged at -2.4% in the last four weeks ending 19 June, indicating that supermarkets continue to drive high sales volumes despite the UK lockdown easing.

This is a strong performance, as during the same period last year, NielsenIQ recorded the second highest four weekly growth of 2020 (+14.4%).

Bank Holiday and Euro2020 Boost

A late May bank holiday weekend, combined with a short heatwave and the beginning of Euro2020, all helped to maintain grocery sales, which remained flat (-0.1%) over the last 12 weeks. 

Category performance also shifted in response to changes in weather. For example, delicatessen sales grew +13.5%1, with soft drinks (+12.3%), bakery (+8.7%) and crisps, snacks and nuts (+4.1%) all increasing as shoppers sought to enjoy the weather and entertain in small groups.

This is in contrast to sales for frozen (-9.3%) and packaged grocery (-12.8%), whilst spend also shifted away from beers, wines and spirits (-4.4%) as indoor drinking and eating returned. 


Online Sales Decline

Data from NielsenIQ reveals that online grocery sales declined by -6.9% over the last four weeks ending 19 June. However 8 million shoppers - equal to 28% of all households - continue to shop online every four weeks, indicating that this is a ‘sticky’ habit, likely to remain at a much higher level than before even as we emerge from restrictions. 

Online share of FMCG sales is currently 13.1%2.

Shoppers Visit Stores More Often

NielsenIQ data also shows that some pre-Covid-19 shopping behaviours are beginning to be re-established, with shoppers continuing to visit stores more often, up by 15% compared to this time last year. As a result, the average spend per visit  has reduced by 15% to £17.2, from £20.4 a year ago.

In the last 12 weeks to 19 June, food sales at M&S increased by 11.3%. Growth was strong at discounters, but this was also driven by new store openings, particularly in the case of Lidl, where sales increased 20.4%.

Moreover, Sainsbury’s was the only grocer of the ‘big 4’ to have grown market share in the last 12 weeks. Sales for the Co-operative and Iceland remain in decline as a result of Covid-19 comparatives, but the increase in visits to these retailers continues to mirror the market. 


Staycations To Fuel Further Growth

“With some lockdown restrictions still in place, British consumers have maintained spend at UK supermarkets, with sales remaining relatively buoyant over the last four week period against the high spend during the lockdown last year," said Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight.

"Staycations for most families this year and the anticipated relaxation of remaining restrictions in July, are expected to be catalysts to a change in retail spend. Whilst more food spend will shift back to hospitality, the increase in seasonal travel and families and friends finally able to join together without restrictions, will give an added boost to food and drink categories at supermarkets."

© 2021 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Maev Martin. For more Retail news click here. Click sign up to subscribe to Checkout

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