Online grocery sales fall amid recovering in-store sales

Although most of Covid’s restrictions have been lifted, UK supermarkets recorded 50 million more store visits in the four weeks to 14 August compared to the same period last year, generating £7.7 billion in sales.

As a result, online food sales fell 10% to £1.1 billion. But online is still a popular channel with UK shoppers, even with the simplest pandemic regulations. The online share of spending on food dropped to 12.7% but remains close to the 13.4% recorded in May 2020 at the peak of the first block.

Visits to stores increased 12%, an increase attributed to the improvement in consumer confidence due to the increase in vaccination rates, the lifting of social distancing restrictions, and the increase in the summer climate.

In fact, total supermarket sales increased 1.1% over the period, helped by a brief heatwave in the week ending July 24, when sales peaked at +6.2% – most optimistic weekly sales so far.

Categories with healthy growth include sweets (+ 9.6%), soft drinks (+ 5.5%), delicatessen (+ 9.5%) and pastries (+ 8.1%). Frozen drinks and spirits, on the other hand, saw sales declines of -4% and -6%, respectively, although this was due to categories that had particularly high sales last year.

Discount markets Lidl (16%) and Aldi (7.3%) led the market in terms of growth in the last 12 weeks, while Marks & Spencer (5.5%) also showed good growth in the premium segment.