fruit supermarket trolley

UK grocery sales accelerated further after a record Christmas, with thereintroduction of national lockdown restrictions preventing people across the country from eating out.

Take-home grocery sales rose an impressive 12.2 per cent in the 12 weeks to 24 January, according to Kantar, with shoppers spending £1 billion moreon supermarket food and drinkin Januarythan in the same four-week period of 2020.

“As well as the usual healthy new year’s resolutions, shoppers also looked to treat themselves in January as a way of coping with another month of restrictions,” saidFraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

“For example, vegan-specific ranges were bought by 6.6 million households this month, a 10 per cent increase on last year, as Veganuary helped sales of those products grow by 23 per cent in the past four weeks compared to 2020.”

One year on since the first Covid-19 cases were detected in Britain, clear patterns remain in shopping habits by different age demographics. In the four weeks to 24 January, people under 28, who are typically more open to visiting physical shops, increased spending in larger physical stores by 12 per cent.

Over-45s, on the other hand, cut back spend in bigger supermarkets by one per cent, and the rapid growth of online shopping, which hit a record share of 14 per cent this month, is being led by the oldest demographics.

“Retired households have boosted their online spend by a staggering 229 per cent compared with January 2020,” McKevitt reported. “Older people are clearly getting more comfortable and proficient at ordering online and they now make up 28 per cent of the 6.4 million who used online services in Great Britain this month.”

Parents had a busy month, with many facing a return to home-schooling. The average family spent £50 more on groceries in the month of January than they did last year.

“We expect to see strong growth for all the grocers fall off as we reach the anniversary of the first national lockdown in March,” McKevitt said. “Sales will then be measured against the high volumes recorded in spring and summer 2020.With the vaccine rollout underway, there’s also hope that the hospitality sector will re-open, meaning demand for take-home groceries is likely to subside.

“Brexit has been another talking point, though steady grocery inflation of 1.3 per cent this month suggests any pricing impact is yet to be felt by consumers.”

Convenience stores, including independent corner shops and those operated by the major chains, recorded their highest four-week ending share of the market since September at 12.9 per cent.

Co-op is one of the best-established convenience retailers, and it posted a 12-week ending market share of six per cent, unchanged from last year, after sales increased by 11.4 per cent. Its newHonest Valueline of products added more than £1 million in sales.

Independent and symbol retailers, meanwhile, grew by 20.9 per cent, and accounted for 1.7 per cent of the market this period.

Ocado was once again the fastest growing retailer with sales up by 36.6 per cent, and market share jumping by 0.3 percentage points to 1.7 per cent.

Like Ocado, Waitrose’s premium online offer helped it to grow by 11.3 per cent, while its market share stayed level at five per cent. Iceland’s strong run continued, with sales up by 21.8 per cent, meaning it has now grown every period since April 2018. Its market share increased to 2.5 per cent during the 12-week period.

Of the big four supermarkets, Morrisons increased sales the fastest, with growth of 14.3 per cent.It gained share for the eighth month in a row, now claiming 10.4 per cent of all sales.

Tesco had another strong month with sales rising by 12.2 per cent, in step with the overall market, and it maintained a market share of 27.3 per cent.

Sainsbury’s also posted a solid increase of 12 per cent, and Asda’s growth of 9.9 per cent was its best performance since July, helping to narrow the gap with its rivals.

Lidl grew by 12.1 per cent, with market share of 5.9 per cent – the same as last year.

Fellow discounter Aldi now holds a market share of 7.4 per cent and its sales were up by 5.7 per cent.