Supermarket sales begin to pick up again as coronavirus restrictions return

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Supermarket sales have picked up in recent weeks as UK coronavirus restrictions become tighter in more areas around the country.

Grocery sales swelled 9.4% during the 12 weeks to October 4, 2020, according to fresh data from Kantar, with the most recent four weeks seeing growth of 10.6% compared to 8% in the preceding four-week period.

Online transactions remained at 12.5% of the total proportion of supermarket sales in the past four weeks, up 76% on a year ago, Kantar said, with one in five households ordering groceries via the internet.

“Shoppers are moving a greater proportion of their eating and drinking back into the home. This is likely a response to rising Covid-19 infection rates, greater restrictions on opening hours in the hospitality sector, and the end of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

With pubs shutting at 10pm under new curfew rules, supermarket alcohol sales were worth GBP261mln more in the past month than a year ago.

The seven days to Sunday September 27 were the busiest since March, with 107mln supermarket trips recorded, Kantar found.

Although that number was nowhere near the 175mln trips during the stockpiling ahead of the first national lockdown, sales of toilet roll and flour jumped 64% and 73% in the week as households prepared for new coronavirus restrictions.

Ocado Group PLC (LON:OCDO) and Marks and Spencer Group PLC‘s (LON:MKS) UK joint venture continued to be the biggest beneficiary of the online trend, with 12-week ending up 41.9% compared to a year ago.

The Ocado Retail business was the only grocer to increase the number of shoppers using its service in the latest period, with 22,000 customers added and the venture’s market share rose by 0.4 percentage points to 1.8%.

Of the big four grocers, Wm Morrisons Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW) continued to enjoy the strongest growth, with sales growth of 11.5% that helped lift its share 0.2 percentage points to 10.1%.

As new Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) boss Ken Murphy took the helm the group kept hold of its share of the market for the second period in a row, having flagged in its recent results that it has been taking sales back from discounter Aldi for the first time in years thanks to its ‘price watch’ campaign.

Tesco sales were up 9.2% in the 12-week period, with a market share at 26.9%.

J Sainsbury PLC (LON:SBRY) increased sales 6.8% and saw its market share drop from 15.3% to 14.9%.

Asda, as it prepares to be transferred from Walmart to new owners, saw sales grow 5.4% and its market share fall from 15% to 14.4%.

Shares in Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons were all more than 1% higher on Tuesday, while Ocado was slightly in the red and M&S was down more than 2%.

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