There was little evidence of panic-buying of groceries ahead of England’s second coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown but households have started Christmas shopping early, according to new industry data.
Spending by shoppers visiting supermarkets rose 9.3% during the 12 weeks to November 1, 2020, compared to the same period last year, research from Kantar has shown, which was little changed from the 9.3% growth reported a month earlier.
In Wales, where a ‘firebreak’ lockdown came into effect earlier, sales were up by 15% in the four weeks to November 1, with the following week seeing online shopping in Wales hitting its highest ever level, with a 16.2% share of the market.
“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,” said Fraser McKevitt, Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight.
A rush of people looking to get ahead with gift buying before stores closed saw toy and entertainment stores take more than double their share of pre-COVID-19 footfall in the three days before nationwide restrictions were introduced in England, with shopper numbers also elevated at gift shops and fashion retailers.
Kantar said supermarket’s premium own-label products were also seeing increased demand, ahead of its normal peak in December.
The online grocery joint venture between Ocado Group PLC (LON:OCDO) and Marks & Spencer Group PLC (LON:MKS) was again the fastest-growing retailer, with sales up by 36.1% over the 12-week period, increasing its market share to 1.7%.
Wm Morrisons Supermarkets PC (LON:MRW) led the big four grocers, growing sales by 11.4%, and expanding its share for the fifth month in a row, to 10.2%.
There was fast growth at both ends of the market, with Lidl sales up 12.5% and Waitrose at 10.6%, with the upmarket chain’s share rising for the first time since 2017 to 5.1%. Waitrose increased its online sales faster than any other grocer this period.
Higher demand for frozen food continued to boost Iceland, where sales grew 17.9%.