Grocery sales dip year-on-year, but remain high compared with pre-pandemic figures   

A shopping trolley outside Tesco Extra supermarket in Wembley on November 7, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Grocery sales fell by 5.1 per cent over the 12 weeks to 11 July from the pandemic highs of the last year, but still remained much higher than the same period in 2019, according to the latest grocery market share figures from Kantar.

Shoppers spent £3 billion more on groceries in this period, when compared to 2019, returning a 10.9 per cent growth figure on two years. This was pronounced for the symbols and independents, who witnessed 25.8 per cent decline year-on-year, but a strong 18.4 per cent growth in sales from 2019.

In fact, Waitrose was the only retailer with a bricks and mortar estate to achieve sales growth during this period (0.1%) and Aldi has seen flat sales.

As year-on-year online grocery sales declined for the first time ever, Ocado’s growth slowed to 3 per cent over the latest 12 weeks. However, it remained the fastest growing retailer and increased its market share by 0.1 percentage points to 1.8 per cent.

Football fever saw shoppers spend £1.2 billion on alcohol over the past month – a 24 per cent increase on 2019. Sales of crisps, snacks, and pizza also soared, with sales growing by 23 per cent compared with two years ago.

However, take-home sales of alcohol over the four weeks to mid-July were actually down by 3 per cent compared with the previous month, Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, noted attributing this to fans making the most of newfound freedoms by watching the matches in pubs and bars.

McKevitt added that over half of the shoppers (55%) say they felt safe on their latest trip to a retailer as the social distancing and face mask rules came to an end on 19 July in England.

“The proportion of people who feel safe when visiting stores has not varied significantly over the past six months, despite the majority of the country now being at least partially vaccinated. Just over half of the population feel happy and secure in store but that of course means a significant minority still experience some degree of anxiety while out and about,” he noted.

Online’s rapid rise also started to taper in July as the nation returned to shops, workplaces and restaurants over the past month. “Digital baskets shrunk by 8 per cent to an average of £80 per shop, the lowest since February 2020. As a result, year-on-year sales growth for online groceries has dropped for the first time ever – falling by 2.6 per cent. The channel currently accounts for 13.3 per cent of the total market,” McKevitt said.