By James Davey
LONDON (Reuters) - British grocery price inflation was 2.1% in the four weeks to Oct. 31, its highest level since August 2020, market researcher Kantar said on Tuesday, adding to the pressure on household finances.
Last week the Bank of England confounded widespread market expectations of an interest rate hike but with overall inflation heading for almost 5% one is expected soon.
Kantar said grocery prices are rising fastest in markets such as savoury snacks, canned colas and crisps while falling in fresh bacon, vegetables and pet treats.
“Grocery ... inflation hit its highest rate since August 2020, when retailers were still cutting promotions (during the pandemic) to maintain stock on the shelves," said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.
"As prices increase in certain categories, we can expect shoppers to continue to visit several supermarkets and shop around to find the best deals," he said.
Households already visit an average of 3.3 supermarkets per month in order to find the best value for money, McKevitt said.
Kantar said UK grocery sales fell 1.9% year-on-year in the 12 weeks to Oct. 31 but were up 7.3% compared with 2019 before the impact of the pandemic on trading.
Shopping habits are beginning to settle at a new baseline, with the general trend towards bigger, less frequent trips to the supermarket set to stay.
Kantar said households visited the supermarket 15.7 times in the past month on average - a slight increase from the 15.3 trips in the same period in 2020.
However, consumers are still making 40 million fewer trips per month than they were in 2019.
"At this rate of change, it would take three years to get back to our old shopping patterns," said McKevitt.
Online grocery sales have also levelled out, accounting for 12.4% of the total grocery market for the second month in a row.
Kantar said Britons are preparing for Christmas early this year, with 4.7 million households buying mince pies in October and 1.6 million buying Christmas puddings. Frozen poultry sales are also 27% higher year-on-year in the latest four weeks.
Market leader Tesco bucked the wider market decline and was the only group to achieve year-on-year sales growth over the 12 weeks.
Market share and sales growth(%)
12 wks to 12 wks to % change in
Oct. 31 2021 Nov. 1 2020 sales
Tesco 27.6 27.0 0.3
Sainsbury's 15.2 15.3 -2.8
Asda 14.3 14.4 -2.3
Morrisons 10.0 10.2 -4.3
Aldi 7.9 7.8 -0.4
Co-operative 6.3 6.4 -3.8
Lidl 6.2 6.1 0
Waitrose 5.0 5.1 -2.7
Iceland 2.3 2.3 -3.9
Ocado 1.7 1.7 -2.1
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Grant McCool)