Record-breaking 5.9million shoppers bought food online last month

Record-breaking 5.9million shoppers bought food online last month as UK grocery sales jumped 9.3% – despite ‘no evidence’ of panic buying, figures reveal

  • Record 5.9m shoppers did their food order online last month ahead of lockdown
  • UK grocery sales jumped 9.3 per cent to £29.4m during 12 weeks to November 1
  • Toy stores saw more than double their share of pre-Covid footfall last week

A record-breaking 5.9 million shoppers bought food online last month but there was ‘limited evidence’ of panic buying ahead of the second lockdown, according to new figures.

The latest supermarket data showed UK grocery sales jumped 9.3 per cent to £29.4 million during the 12 weeks to November 1 as the number of online customers reached a new high amid the pandemic. 

Initial figures showed little sign of stockpiling despite the two-week firebreak in Wales and the new lockdown in England, which came into effect last Thursday. 

Sales increased by 9.4 per cent in the most recent four weeks, similar to the overall rise in the quarter, according to data from Kantar.

A record-breaking 5.9 million shoppers bought food online last month. An Ocado delivery driver makes an M&S food delivery

But shoppers rushed to snap up Christmas gifts ahead of the four-week lockdown, with toy and entertainment stores seeing more than double their share of pre-Covid footfall between Monday to Wednesday last week. 

Internet shopping hit its highest ever level in Wales in the second week of the country’s two-week ‘firebreak’ lockdown, now accounting for 16.2 per cent of the market.

It said Welsh shoppers increased their spending by an average of £10 during the first week of the lockdown, which has now ended.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: ‘While there was some uplift in Wales, the increased spending did not provide any evidence of stockpiling, and initial figures suggest no sign of panic buying in England either.

Shopper pushes a trolley through a Tesco Extra supermarket carpark in Wembley on November 7,  during the second lockdown, in London, England

Shoppers load groceries into their car outside a Tesco Extra supermarket in Wembley on November 7, 2020 in London, England

‘But one thing is always front of mind at this time of year – Christmas – and it seems many people sought to get ahead with gift buying before stores closed.’

The data showed Morrisons – Britain’s fourth biggest supermarket group – was the best performer of the Big Four grocers, with sales up 11.4 per cent over the 12-week period and its market share increasing to 10.2 per cent from 10 per cent a year ago.

Tesco notched up a 9.1 per cent rise in sales as its share held steady at 27 per cent, while Sainsbury’s sales lifted 7.6 per cent despite its share decreasing to 15.3 per cent from 15.6 per cent a year earlier.

Walmart-owned Asda saw the slowest growth of the big chains, at 5 per cent, and a drop in market share to 14.4 per cent from 14.9 per cent a year earlier.

But it was Iceland that saw a stand-out performance, with sales racing 17.9 per cent higher as shoppers looked to stock up on frozen food and long-lasting provisions to see them through the coronavirus crisis.

The travelator at a Tesco supermarket in Cambridge is blocked off to close non-essential clothing department during lockdown, November 9. Customers are turning to online shopping

And it is not just essential items flying off the shelf in the run up to the Christmas period as Waitrose announced that people have bought 250 per cent more festive products online already compared to last year.

The supermarket has also seen a 280 per cent rise in those ordering their pre-prepped Christmas dinners and a 180 per cent rise in the number of turkeys ordered.

To deal with a massively increased demand the supermarket is offering 190,000 delivery slots each week and has already had 107,000 slots booked for 20 to 24 December.

Waitrose added: ‘We’ve also significantly increased Collection slots this year. By the end of Oct we will have 269 Shops offering Click & Collect groceries, and with 57 of these shops offering drive-through collections.’

Meanwhile, Ocado delivery slots were also in high demand, with the online supermarket saying it was ‘selling out faster than usual’. 

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