The proportion of Britons buying groceries online dipped to 20% in the 12 weeks to 8 August, the lowest level seen since October last year, as shoppers returned to stores, market researcher Kantar said on Tuesday.
It said the share of grocery sales made online was 13.0%, down from a peak of 15.4% in February.
Take-up of online grocery shopping grew rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic, but as lockdown restrictions have loosened a divide is beginning to emerge.
"Those who have come to love the convenience of an online shop are sticking with it, ordering regularly and spending on average more than two-thirds of their total grocery bill online. But the unconverted are starting to drop away, preferring to get back to store instead," said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.
This shift away from online contributed to Ocado Group Plc’s sales falling by 0.7% year-on-year over the 12 weeks, its first decline on record, Kantar said, though it noted that sales were up 44.4% compared with 2019.
Market leader Tesco Plc was the best performer of Britain's big four grocers, with sales down 1.8%. Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda's sales fell 2.6%, 4.7% and 6.2%, respectively.
Total UK Grocery Sales
Total UK grocery sales were down 4.0% over the 12-week period year-on-year and down 0.5% over the latter four weeks, reflecting strong growth in last year's lockdowns.
Grocery sales were 9.9% higher, however, in the latest 12 weeks compared with the same period in 2019, before the pandemic started to impact trade.
Kantar said consumers made an extra 108,000 shopping trips in the latest four-week period versus last year, while average basket sizes were 10% smaller.
It said grocery prices rose 0.4% in the four-week period.
“Although relatively low, this four-week level of inflation would still add £19 ($26.29) to the average household’s annual grocery bill," said McKevitt.
"It’s expected that inflation will rise again in the coming months, and as a result we’ll likely see shoppers seeking to tighten the purse strings and save where they can."
News by Reuters edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. For more Technology news click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.