Grocery sales decline by 1.9%

UK grocery sales have fallen by 1.9 per cent year-on-year across the 12 weeks to 31 October, according to figures from Kantar.

Despite the decline, sales were still higher than before the pandemic, up 7.3 per cent compared with 2019.

The study revealed that like-for-like grocery price inflation now stands at 2.1 per cent in the latest four weeks, representing its highest level since August last year. In the latest 12 weeks, inflation reached 1.5 per cent.

As the retail industry continues to grapple with supply chain disruption, prices are rising fastest in markets such as savoury snacks, canned colas, and crisps while falling in fresh bacon, vegetables, and cat and dog treats.

“Grocery prices are rising and this month inflation hit its highest rate since August 2020, when retailers were still cutting promotions to maintain stock on the shelves,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar. “As prices increase in certain categories, we can expect shoppers to continue to visit several supermarkets and shop around to find the best deals.

“Already, households visit an average of 3.3 supermarkets per month in order to find the best value for money.”

The research also found that shopping behaviour is beginning to stabilise, while some habits from the Covid-19 crisis are set to stay. Shoppers in the UK are still making 40 million fewer trips to supermarkets every month compared to two years ago, while a fifth of households order their groceries online.

The figures are published as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) releases research that shows overall retail sales increased by 1.3 per cent last month, compared to a growth of 3.9 per cent in October 2020. But in comparison to pre-pandemic levels, total retail sales grew by 6.3 per cent during the same period.

“Customer demand is getting back on track ahead of Christmas as sales grew at a faster rate than the month prior, and well above its pre-pandemic levels,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive, BRC. “Retailers are hopeful that demand will continue right through the golden quarter, however, there are challenges ahead with higher prices on the horizon compounded by the many increasing costs faced by consumers such as higher energy bills and rising national insurance.”

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