Supermarket packaging

Supermarket sales during the coronavirus pandemic have slowed in the past three months, but remain far above normal according to new Kantar data.

Figures show supermarket sales growth slowed to 14.4 per cent in the past 12 weeks, suggesting shopping habits are slowly returning to normal.

Grocery spend of £9.7 billion over the past four weeks makes it the lowest since February, although this is still considerably higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to Kantar.

Online retailer Ocado remains the biggest beneficiary of new shopping habits, reaching a record new market share after massive growth of 45.5 per cent in the past three months, while 13.5 per cent of all retail sales have been online.

Interestingly, Morrisons proved the fastest growing big four retailer, with sales up 16 per cent, driven by a particularly strong performance from its supermarket stores, which now account for 10.2 per cent of the market.

Charlotte Scott, consumer insight director at Kantar, said:“While things are far from normal, the data shows a gradual softening of the more extreme lockdown trends in the grocery market.

“The relaxing of rules across much of the country means shoppers are less inclined to stock up their cupboards with regular large trips.That has seen average spend drop below £25 for the first time since March. However, at £24, it is still a world away from the pre-Covid average of £19 per trip.

“Although the current average of 14 shopping trips per month per household is lower than it was last month, it is higher than in April and May, when lockdown rules were much tighter.So, while some consumers have shopped more often in the past month, the story varies in different parts of the country, with localised lockdowns and slower openings resulting in people making fewer trips in the North, the Midlands and Wales.”

Kantar reports a new health trend too, with nut sales up 21 per cent, as well as vitamins, tea and minerals sales also rising, providing potentially beneficial knock on effect for fresh produce.

That said, just nearly half of shoppers feel afraid to shop in store, meaning people will need time to adjust to new measures. Kantar report two million fewer supermarket trips than would normally be expected in the week after the mandatory face mask rule was adopted.