Online grocery shopping stalls as Britons slowly return to pre-pandemic habits

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The growth of online grocery shopping has stuttered as Britons are slowly returning to pre-pandemic habits.

E-commerce’s share of the market remained flat at 13.4% in the four weeks to 13 June, according to the latest Kantar data, with take-home grocery sales down 1.6% compared to last year but still £3.3bn higher than in 2019.

READ: Supermarket sales dip as lockdown eases but remain above pre-pandemic levels

The popularity of online sales during the past year has been one reason why Aldi and Lidl have been slow to make market share gains since the start of the pandemic.

As trading normalised, Aldi was the fastest-growing retailer over the past 12 weeks with sales up by 6.6%, while Ocado’s (LON:OCDO) growth slowed to 5.4%. 

Researchers said Aldi’s improvement was due to older shoppers who, having been vaccinated, are now more confident about visiting stores.

The discounter’s market share increased as a result by 0.7 percentage points to 8.2%, matching its highest ever in March 2020. Lidl also saw its share increase from 5.8% to 6.1% this period.

Looking at the Big Four, Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) gained 0.2 percentage points of market share.

“A really interesting recent development in online shopping is the rapid growth of fast-track delivery services for smaller top-up shops,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

“Tesco launched its Whoosh platform in May to compete against start-up disruptors including Gorillas, Getir and Weezy which are moving into the market for smaller trips, with baskets under £25 currently worth £41bn online and in-store each year.  It’s definitely a case of ‘watch this space’.”

Asda too made gains, with footfall up by 29%, more than any other big four retailer. Its market share also grew from 13.9% in 2020 to 14.1%. Morrisons’ (LON:MRW) market share remained at 10.1% after recording strong growth a year ago.

Co-op’s market share fell back from 7.4% to 6.3% this period, with independent convenience store operators seeing a similar pattern as shoppers start to use them more on the go but rely on them less for take-home groceries.

Frozen food was very popular during last year’s lockdowns, an effect which is now slowing down for Iceland, with its share falling to 2.3% of the market from 2.5% 12 months ago. 

Waitrose enjoyed growth of 3.3% this period with market share up to 5.0%. 

People are shopping more often and buying less in store compared to last year, as the average spend per trip is down 13.6%. however, the number of trips remains below 2019 levels.

With pubs and restaurants open footfall has decreased in supermarkets, however take-home sales of alcohol jumped by £29mln in the last four weeks compared to May, driven by the late May bank holiday and the European football championships.

People spent £33mln on sun creams in the past four weeks alone, more than double the previous month, after good weather finally showed up.

Recent concerns about inflation in the wider economy have yet to materialise in the grocery market, Kantar said, where prices paid fell by 1.9% year on year. 

That is partly because of an increase in the number of promotions currently on offer – this period 29.6% of all grocery spending was done on some kind of deal, up from 26.4% this time last year.

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