Grocers under pressure after lockdown surge in demand

Grocers under pressure after lockdown surge in demand
// Grocers under pressure after shoppers raced to book deliveries ahead of new national lockdowns
// Kantar figures this morning confirm that Brits spent £11.7bn in supermarkets in Dec, making it their busiest month ever
// Ocado ended the year as the UK’s fastest growing grocer after a 36.5% sales surge over Christmas

The UK grocery sector has been flooded with demand amid tightening coronavirus restrictions over the past two months, after industry figures confirmed a record month of sales for supermarkets in December.

Grocers have seen their websites come under pressure after shoppers raced to book deliveries ahead of new national lockdown measures across the UK.

The major chains experienced problems with their apps and websites on Monday evening after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the third English lockdown would begin today.


Sainsbury’s app was temporarily down last night, while Tesco also experienced issues with its online operations and Morrisons and Ocado were forced to place shoppers in virtual queues.

Websites appeared to be running largely as normal on Tuesday, but with little availability left for home delivery slots.

Sainsbury’s said it had temporarily limited access to its online groceries service on Monday night to “manage high demand for slots and updates customers were making to existing orders”.

Tesco said bosses were holding discussions to review the item limit for online baskets, as well as product restrictions across popular items such as toilet rolls, antibacterial wipes and pasta.

Kantar figures this morning showed that Brits spent £11.7 billion in supermarkets throughout December in their busiest month ever, with trade boosted by the closure of restaurants, bars and cafes across most of the UK.

The data revealed the record December helped sales jump 11.4 per cent to £32.7 billion over the 12 weeks to December 27.

Kantar said supermarket trading was boosted by the £4 billion that would normally have been spent on food and drink outside the home over the Christmas season.

The report also showed online grocery sales accounted for 12.6 per cent of total spend in December, compared with 7.4 per cent in 2019.

Online retailer Ocado ended the year as the country’s fastest growing retailer after a 36.5 per cent sales surge over the festive quarter.

“December is always an incredibly busy time for supermarkets, but take-home grocery shopping is usually supplemented by celebrations in restaurants, pubs and bars – with £4 billion spent on food and drink, excluding alcohol, out of the home during the normal festive month,” Kantar head of retail insight Fraser McKevitt said.

“This year, almost all those meals were eaten at home and retailers stepped up monumentally to meet the surge in demand.”

He added that the port disruption ahead of the Brexit deal deadline meant shoppers brought forward their Christmas shopping, with Monday December 21 the busiest shopping day of the year.

“Fifteen million households – more than half the entire population – visited a grocer at some point that day and spent a collective £819 million,” he said.

Kantar’s data showed that among the Big 4 grocers, Morrisons was one of the Christmas winners with a 13 per cent rise in sales over the festive quarter and an increase in market share to 10.4% from 10.3 per cent.

Tesco’s market share slipped to 27.3 per cent from 27.4 per cent, but sales rose 11 per cent.

Sainsbury’s saw sales jump 16 per cent to £5.2 billion, though like Tesco, its market share dropped to 15.9 per cent from 16 per cent.

Asda’s market share fell to 14.3 per cent from 14.8 per cent as sales lifted 7.8 per cent.

with PA Wires

Click here to sign up to Retail Gazette’s free daily email newsletter


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here