Supermarkets experience biggest Christmas on record

Online grocery sales doubled in December, leading to the biggest Christmas on record for supermarkets.

Over the last 12 weeks ending 26th December, Lidl led the growth with an increase of 20.9 per cent, followed by Morrisons at 9.2 per cent.

Online share of grocery sales increased to 12.5 per cent over, up from 6.7 per cent in 2019.

The overall rise in sales across supermarket brands is a result of 8.5 million UK households choosing to shop online, an increase of nearly three million compared to 2019, according to figures published by Nielsen.

Visits to stores declined by 10 per cent, but overall and including online, shoppers increased their spend per visit to an average of £20, up from £17 a year ago.

In the four weeks ending 26th December, a total of almost £12 billion was spent at UK supermarkets, with £1.3 billion spent online.

“2020 marks the first Christmas where online shopping played a significant role in consumers’ shopping behaviours, with 85 per cent of the incremental sales in food and drink made online in the last four weeks ending 26th December,” said Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight. “Although overall grocery growth was a little lower than in November, this takes into account the many challenges consumers faced around restrictions and cancelled Christmas plans.”

He added: “It has certainly been an unusual Christmas for us all, and this has affected purchasing decisions. The pandemic has changed how we live, shop and consume and despite consumers celebrating the festivities in smaller groups, food and drink remained at the heart of celebrations. With fewer people to entertain and cater for, many households took the opportunity to enjoy less traditional meals.”

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