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£30bn lockdown supermarket surge drives fastest growth on record

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
Shoppers wear face masks to protect against the coronavirus outbreak as they do their weekend shopping at a supermarket in London, Friday, April 17, 2020. The highly contagious COVID-19 coronavirus has impacted on nations around the globe, many imposing self isolation and exercising social distancing when people move from their homes.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
The supermarket sector grew by a record 16.9% over the last three months, according to Kantar. Photo: Frank Augstein/AP

Supermarkets enjoyed record growth in sales during lockdown, new data shows, with the market expanding at its fastest rate since records began.

The supermarket sector grew by 16.9% between mid-April and mid-July, market research firm Kantar said on Tuesday, marking the fastest growth since Kantar began monitoring the industry in 1994.

Shoppers spent a record £31.6bn ($40bn) in the 12 weeks to 12 July, Kantar said. Frozen food sales jumped by 22% as Brits stocked their freezers for lockdown and alcohol sales also rocketed.

Kantar said the surge in supermarket shopping had begun to ease in recent weeks as lockdown restrictions have been adjusted.

“Some consumers are slowly resuming their pre-Covid routines and shopping habits,” Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said in a statement.

“This meant year-on-year supermarket sales growth decelerated in the most recent four weeks to 14.6%, down from 18.9% in June.

“However, we are clearly a long way off a complete return to normality.”

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Alcohol sales remained 41% higher than this time last year, suggesting Brits are not rushing back to the pub following their reopening.

The average spend per visit to the supermarket also remains elevated. Brits are spending an average of £25 every time they go, which is 35% higher than average spending this time last year.

Online grocery shopping continues to surge, with sales up 92% in the last month.

Ocado (OCDO.L), the biggest name in the space, grew its market share from 1.4% to 1.7% between mid-April and mid-July. McKevitt said Ocado was “benefiting from its loyal customer base increasing their shopping frequency by a third compared with last year”.

Kantar said the “Big Four” supermarkets all experienced strong sales growth, with Morrisons (MRW.L) sales rising by 17.4%, Tesco (TSCO.L) sales up 15.1%, Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) sales climbing 13.5% and Asda up 11.0%.