UK supermarkets’ record month: Covid brings dinner to your home

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When pubs and restaurants face closure in the main trading season, takeaway sales increase.

When shoppers spent nearly £ 12 billion stocking up on cheese, fresh fish and pork for a very rare Christmas, December was the best-selling month ever for UK supermarkets.

Consumers spent £ 11.7 billion on takeaway food in the four weeks to December 27, according to analysts at Kantar, breaking the previous high of just under £ 11 billion in November.

December is still an extremely busy time for supermarkets, but takeaway food sales are usually accompanied by parties in restaurants, pubs and bars – with £ 4 billion spent on food and drink away from home during the regular Christmas month, excluding alcohol. Almost half of those meals were consumed at home this year, and retailers went to retailers.
However, overall turkey sales were down 5 percent and Christmas pudding sales were flat compared to last year, as due to strict legislation to curb the spread of the Covid 19 virus, several major family gatherings were cancelled.

McKevitt said, “Without hosting guests, many families seem to have decided to scale things back a bit, and the performance of traditional dinners reflects that.”
Although in the three months ended Dec. 27, total food sales increased 11.4 percent, spending on staple products increased just 4 percent for Christmas, despite less chances to dine out.

With sales up more than 11 percent, Sprouts remained popular, but other winners included cheese, up 17 percent; fresh fish, up 20 percent; and roast pork, up 19 percent.

As pub and bar closures led to a move to drinking at home, alcohol sales increased by £ 310 million.

In terms of sales, Monday, December 21, was the best shopping day – earlier than the anticipated increase on December 23 – as households secured their festive supplies despite the uncertainty of staggered closures and issues at canal ports that disrupted fruit and vegetable deliveries.

However, Morrisons was the only one of the big four supermarkets to gain market share, while the big chains all outperformed smaller independent retailers, discounters Lidl and Iceland, and online specialist Ocado.

Independent store sales grew 17.4%, while Iceland was by far the fastest-growing high-street store chain, with sales increasing by more than a quarter. According to Kantar, sales of Ocado increased 36.5 percent, more than three times as fast as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda. With 12.6 percent of grocery purchases made online in December, this represents a market-wide move towards online shopping, up from just 7.4 percent a year earlier.

Aldi continued to lose market share, with revenue up 6.3 percent, to businesses willing to offer online orders.

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