Morrisons online sales more than doubled in the first quarter, the supermarket chain said on Tuesday as it also pointed to signs of a “strong rebound” in its food-to-go division.
The grocer posted 2.7% like-for-like sales growth, excluding fuel, for the 14 weeks to May 9. That is ahead of the 1.6% analysts had pencilled in, but down from 9% growth recorded in the prior quarter. However, the last quarter of 2020 was higher as it contrasted with a pre-Covid time.
During the first quarter the group, led by David Potts, saw online sales increase 113%.
The firm said: “Both Morrisons.com and Morrisons on Amazon are now complementing our supermarkets well.” It runs the former in house, and its work with Amazon includes the tech giant selling Morrisons goods online that Amazon delivers to shoppers via 65 shops. Potts expects the number of his stores that offer the service to increase.
The supermarket also provides a number of goods to Amazon’s three new till-free convenience stores in London.
Potts also pointed to improved demand for £3 meal deals in store, and said: “Consumers are much more back on the road.” He added that more people are now probably combining working from home with working elsewhere.
Potts said: "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. Our forecourts are getting busier, we are seeing encouraging recent signs of a strong rebound of food-to-go, take-away counters and salad bars, and our popular cafés will soon fully reopen.”
The boss added that there is a summer of socialising and sport to look forward to, and said: “Customers are wanting to get together.”
Non essential retailers, such as fashion and jewellery brands, were closed for most of the first quarter of this year, but they were allowed to reopen from April 12, as was the hospitality sector for indoor serving. Grocers are likely to face more competition when restaurant and pub operators start trading indoors from May 17.
In March FTSE 250 company Morrisons said it expected pre-tax profits in the year to January 2022 to be higher than the £431 million it would have recorded if it had not waived business rates relief in the prior financial year.
That guidance is unchanged. But the retailer said it expects another year of “meaningful profit growth” in 2022/23.