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    Indies maintain growth momentum even as pre-Covid shopping habits creep back

    People shop at Ridley Road market in Dalston as social distancing markers are set out on the floor on June 01, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

    Convenience stores have maintained the astounding growth levels even as shoppers tend to cautiously return to their pre-lockdown behaviours, latest grocery market data from Kantar revealed.

    Independent convenience stores, including symbols, grew sales by 59.5 per cent during the 12 weeks to 12 July, compared to the similar period in the previous year.

    The figure is a decrease by almost 10 percentage points as the sector witnessed a 69.3 per cent year on year jump in sales during the 12 weeks to 14 June.

    Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, commented that the last four weeks has seen consumers slowly resuming their pre-Covid routines and shopping habits.

    “Convenience stores were a lifeline for many people in the early days of the crisis, providing essential supplies close to home. Sales from these types of stores are still up by more than a quarter year on year, but they attracted 2.6 million fewer shoppers through their doors than at the peak of lockdown in April,” he said.

    “Consumers are clearly growing more comfortable getting in their cars or taking public transport, as the average distance travelled to a grocer has gone up to 4.9km, a 10 per cent increase from the April low.”

    Total grocery sales reached a record £31.6 billion in the 12 weeks to 12 July, growing by 16.9 per cent – the fastest growth rate since 1994.

    McKevitt noted that a complete return to normality would still be far away.

    “Footfall was still 15 per cent lower during the past four weeks and the average spend on a supermarket trip was £25.05, 35 per cent more than the same period last year, as most people continue to eat more meals and snacks at home,” he said.

    Despite the re-opening of pubs, bars and restaurants, take-home alcohol sales went up by 41 per cent in the last four weeks as more than half of consumers say they are still uncomfortable with visiting a pub.

    Working from home is also reflecting strongly in sales with shoppers spending an additional £24 million on tea and coffee during the past four weeks and £19 million on biscuits.

    Co-op, the largest player in the convenience sector, achieved a market share of 7.2 per cent during the past 12 weeks, as its sales increased by 30.6 per cent year on year.

    Online grocery sales has also continued the growth momentum and increased to 92 per cent in the last four weeks. The online channel now accounts for 13 per cent of all grocery sales in Britain, up from 7.4 per cent in March.

    With 45.5 per cent growth, Ocado enjoyed second best growth figures in the 12 weeks period, behind independent convenience.

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