Between March and May, UK supermarket sales grew at their fastest rate for at least 26 years, according to data published by Kantar. Overall grocery sales were up 14.3% in the 12 weeks up to May 17th. The good weather prompted shoppers to go to parks and beaches, leading to a bump in sales of food for picnics. The VE Day bank holiday on May 8 made it the biggest shopping day of the month, with £488 million spent on groceries.
According to the report, while shoppers are returning to supermarkets, the lack of hungry workers in offices and school closures is offsetting some of the growth. While online shopping has hit a new peak, and now accounts for 11.5% of all grocery sales, customers have started returning to stores, albeit sticking with bigger weekly shops.
Kantar head of retail insight, Fraser McKevitt, said: “People have been working their way through their store cupboards over the past couple of months and some will now be spending a bit more on each visit to the supermarket to replenish supplies. While these are bumper figures, it remains true that the overall picture for some grocers will be less positive, as supermarkets continue to feel the impact of a considerable reduction in on-the-go spend on meals, drinks and snacks. Those categories usually add up to £1 billion over the course of 12 weeks and they aren’t included in these numbers.”
As shoppers are now visiting supermarkets on average 3.5 times a week, this constitutes 100 million fewer trips. At the same time, average spend per trip has increased 50% to £27.41. Families with adult children have seen the greatest increase in spending, with an average monthly spend of £618 compared with £545 last May.
Meanwhile, online shopping deliveries are up 250% year-on-year. “The grocers have attracted a new group of customers, in particular older demographics, and we expect some of them may continue using online services and enjoying the convenience that home delivery provides,” said McKevitt.