UK grocery sales were up by 7.4% in the first 12 weeks of 2021, down 3% compared with the same period in 2020, according to Kantar data. The reduction in the growth rate coincides with the anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown, which drove a surge in grocery sales. There are also signs that shoppers are returning to physical stores, as growth in online sales was also down. Online sales were 89% higher than this time last year, but the channel’s market share fell back to 14.5% from the record 15.4% recorded in February 2021.
Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt said: “Spring’s arrival signals the start of a really interesting period for the grocery market. The anniversary of the first national lockdown means we begin to compare grocery sales against the record-breaking levels seen in the early days of the pandemic and growth has perhaps not surprisingly dipped over the past four weeks as a result. This time last year, Brits were adjusting to schools and offices closing and making extra trips to the supermarket to fill their cupboards for lockdown. To put that into context, shoppers made 117 million fewer trips to the supermarket this month compared with those fraught weeks in March 2020.”
However, grocery spending remains considerably higher than pre-pandemic levels, and the Easter period may prompt a revival.
“Warmer temperatures and lighter evenings mean many of us are planning outdoor get-togethers over the long weekend – 61% of people are looking forward to socialising with friends again and 23% of households are planning to dust off the barbecue if the weather is kind to us. There are signs of people making a special, even symbolic, effort this year and grandparents might be showing up with additional treats after 12 months of restrictions,” said McKevitt.
Tesco increased its revenue by 8.5% and captured 27.1% of the market, up by 0.3 percentage points compared with the same period last year.