Record UK grocery sales after Covid lockdowns fuel early festive revelry
November was the biggest month ever for UK grocery sales with shoppers spending almost £11bn as the return of lockdown in England drove supermarket purchases of food and alcohol.
Sales of turkey and alcohol were up by just over a third and festive light sales soared 238% in November, according to analysts at Kantar, as shoppers brought forward preparations for Christmas and began treating themselves at home while pubs and restaurants were closed.
While mince pie sales slipped 8%, as social distancing rules meant there was less celebrating with friends and colleagues, cream liqueur sales doubled as festive drinking kicked off at home.
Fraser McKevitt, the head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said total grocery sales rose by 11.3% in the three months to 29 November: “Many people have begun the countdown to Christmas 2020 already, using more time at home to go big on festive revelry.”
With lockdown in place across England and parts of Scotland for the entire month and until 9 November in Wales, online grocery shopping reached a new peak of 13.7% of the market last month, up from about 7% before the pandemic.
Shoppers are likely to be stocking up early to avoid queues caused by social distancing during the Christmas rush, but Kantar is predicting that sales in December will be even higher than last month – at close to £12bn, £1.5bn more than last year.
The strong figures are another boost for supermarkets and discounters which have handed back close to £2bn in business rates relief after an outcry that they received a tax break while sales soared during lockdown.
Independent convenience stores outgrew all their bigger rivals, apart from Iceland, pushing their sales up by 17%. Iceland’s sales rose 21% as shoppers sought out frozen foods to keep them going through Brexit, lockdown and Christmas. The next fastest growing retailer was Lidl, with sales up just under 14%, followed by Morrisons and Waitrose. Aldi, Asda and Tesco lost market share despite sales rising by more than 7%.
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