Morrisons has hailed the “renaissance of the supermarket” as it reported strong sales during the most recent coronavirus lockdown.
The UK’s fourth-largest grocery chain said more people cooking meals at home had helped sales, which grew 2.7 per cent in the 14 weeks to 9 May. Online sales, including Morrisons’ partnership with Amazon, more than doubled compared to the same period last year.
Morrisons said it had seen significant growth in sales of snacks and takeaway food in recent weeks as the economy has begun to reopen.
“The pandemic is not yet over, but it is in retreat across Britain and there is much to be positive about as something approaching normal life begins to take shape,” said Morrisons boss David Potts.
“Our forecourts are getting busier, we are seeing encouraging recent signs of a strong rebound of food-to-go, takeaway counters and salad bars, and our popular cafes will soon fully reopen.”
Before restrictions were eased, Morrisons spent an extra £27m on Covid-19 costs such as store marshals and covering staff absences.
Sales in Morrisons’ wholesale division jumped 21 per cent thanks to a new partnership with McColl’s convenience stores, where Morrisons supplied products to 230 extra sites during the last three months.
Around 1.1 per cent of Morrisons’ overall like-for-like sales growth came from the wholesale business, with the rest from its stores.
Fuel sales returned to close to pre-pandemic levels as motorists made more journeys, Morrisons said.
Mr Potts added: “The nation has a summer of socialising and sport to look forward to and we’ll all be able to rediscover the joys of meeting up and eating well together.”
Analysts questioned whether Morrisons could maintain its strong sales performance as life begins to return to normal and people venture out of their homes more.
Morrisons risks being stuck in the “squeezed middle” between discount chains like Aldi and more upmarket competitors, said Ross Hindle of research company Third Bridge.
“Morrisons continues to foster its relationship with Amazon, triggering much speculation about a full-blown acquisition by Amazon in the near future,” he said.