UK retailer Sainsbury’s registered a 10.5% rise in grocery sales in the first quarter of 2020, with online sales more than doubling during the coronavirus lockdown. Online orders rose from 370,000 a week during the same period last year to 650,000 per week this year. However, new chief executive, Simon Roberts, said that he did not expect the current strong sales growth to continue. Indeed, the supermarket chain expects some challenging times ahead, given the precarious economic outlook. The firm estimates that profits could be cut by over £500 million due to increased costs deriving from the coronavirus pandemic, although many of these would be broadly offset by business rates relief and stronger grocery sales.
Sainsbury’s employed 25,000 new staff during the first quarter to help mitigate surging demand during lockdown, and also paid bonuses to 157,000 staff members as a thank you for working on the frontline during the pandemic. The retailer made almost four million grocery deliveries to more than 500,000 elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers.