Busiest December on record for grocery sales; C-stores witness impressive growth

A shopper wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pushes a trolley past empty fruit and vegetable troughs inside an ASDA supermarket in Walthamstow in north east London on December 22, 2020. (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

December 2020 has seen record demand for groceries as families mark extraordinary Christmas, spending £11.7 billion on take-home groceries during the four weeks ending 27 December.

The latest grocery market share figures from Kantar show take-home grocery sales rose by 11.4 per cent during the 12 weeks to 27 December 2020, a period spanning both the November national lockdown and Christmas.

Symbols and independents performed better with 17.4 per cent growth during this period.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, noted that retailers benefitted from disruptions to celebrations in restaurants, pubs and bars, with £4 billion spent on food and drink, excluding alcohol, out of the home during the normal festive month.

“This year, almost all those meals were eaten at home and retailers stepped up monumentally to meet the surge in demand,” he said.

Changing tier restrictions, Brexit negotiations and reports of delays at Dover meant Brits shopped earlier than normal and the busiest day of the year was 21 December.

“Fifteen million households, more than half the entire population, visited a grocer at some point that day and spent a collective £819 million,” McKevitt said.

Online grocery sales accounted for 12.6 per cent of total spend in December, compared with 7.4 per cent in 2019, and Ocado ended the year as the country’s fastest growing retailer, growing at 36.5 per cent during the three-month period.

Rounding out a year of strong performance for frozen food, Iceland achieved growth of 20.8 per cent.