UK grocery sales up £3.8bn on pre-pandemic levels

British shoppers spent an additional £3.8 billion at supermarkets over the past three months compared with the same period last year.

Overall sales dropped by 0.4 per cent during the 12 weeks to 16 May 2021 compared to last year, but this is in comparison to exceptionally high sales during the first three months of the pandemic.

The figures from Kantar reveal that online supermarket sales remain much higher than 2019 levels but dropped from 13.9 per cent in April this year to 13.4 per cent more recently.

Convenience stores, both independents and smaller formats of the major chains, are seeing some of their market share gains unwind too. Collectively these smaller stores now account for 12.5 per cent of sales, down from 14.9 per cent in May 2020.

“As the vaccine rollout moves full steam ahead, consumers are getting more confident venturing back out to stores,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar. “Shoppers made 58 million more visits to the supermarket this period than they did in May 2020. The greatest acceleration has been in London, where trips are up by more than a quarter.

McKevitt added: “And in other changes, there are signs that the big weekly shop, which made a comeback last year while people tried to reduce time spent outside of home, may be on its way out. Basket sizes have fallen for three months in a row and the average price of a trip to the grocery store over the month to 16 May is £22.82, the lowest since March last year.”

Supermarket share

Aldi and Lidl both grew ahead of the market this period and gained market share in the latest 12 weeks with take-home sales up by 5.2 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively.

Sales at the budget stores had been impacted by shoppers favouring online and cutting back on the number of stores they visited last year, but the tide has turned during this period.

Aldi’s share increased by 0.4 per cent to 8.1 per cent and Lidl grew by 0.3 per cent points to 6.2 per cent.

Ocado is the fastest growing retailer, gaining 0.2 per cent of share during the three-month period.

However, its sales substantially slowed year on year to 15.4 per cent.
All four of the largest supermarkets gained market share. Asda was the biggest winner, with sales up by 1.9 per cent over the 12 weeks and share increasing to 14.4 per cent from 14.1 per cent last year.

Sainsbury’s sales grew by 0.7 per cent, while Morrisons was up by 0.3 per cent.

Tesco sales remained flat versus last year. All secured an additional 0.1 per cent of share.

Waitrose too won market share, up to 5.1 per cent from 5 per cent last year, with sales growing by 2.1 per cent.

“Tough annualisation because of an exceptional 2020 meant spend at symbols and independent retailers and Co-op was down in comparison with last year, but remained in double digit growth against the more typical sales of 2019,” added McKevitt. “Convenience stores also benefited from the return of on-the-go food and drink sales – representing additional growth that is not captured in these take-home figures. It’s a similar story at Iceland, which saw sales boom in 2020 as shoppers stocked up on frozen food, making growth harder to come by this year.”

    Share Story:

Recent Stories

Find out how HULFT can help you manage data, integration, supply chain automation and digital transformation across your retail enterprise.
Talking shop: retail technology solutions from Brother
Retail Systems editor Peter Walker sits down with Brother’s senior commercial client manager Jessica Stansfield to talk through the company’s solutions for retailers and hospitality businesses, what’s new in labelling technology, and the benefits of outsourcing printing.