Online Grocery Sales Boom

Online grocery sales doubled over record-breaking Christmas period

The latest industry data from Nielsen confirms that supermarkets in the UK experienced their biggest Christmas ever last month, with the online channel playing a key role. The online share of grocery sales more doubled to 12.5% (as oppose to 6.7% in 2019) over the four weeks to the 26th of December. The rise was due to a total of 8.5 million households, just over 30% of all households, shopping for their Christmas groceries online, an increase from 5.7 million households over the festive period in 2019.

While visits to stores declined by 10%, overall and including online, shoppers increased their spend per visit to an average of £20, up from £17 a year ago, the biggest ever spend per visit during the Christmas period, and only slightly lower than the all-time high of £22 recorded at the height of the lockdown in May.

The Nielsen data shows that total till sales in the four-week period grew by 8.4% with almost £12 billion spent at supermarkets, including £1.3 billion online. However, the additional pandemic restrictions signposted mid-December led to households planning for smaller family celebrations and holding back some spend in the final two weeks leading up to the 24th of December.

With Covid-19 restrictions also impacting social gatherings and large family celebrations, purchasing fell heavily on the immediate family and not extended family and friends, as many consumers took the opportunity to enjoy a less traditional Christmas meal.

This is reflected in Nielsen’s data which shows increasing sales for less traditional meal items such as frozen dumplings (gone up by 77%), beef fillets, medallions, and steaks (which increased 57%) and fresh sea bass (up by 48%). There was also a surge in demand for more convenience food such as frozen croissants (a huge 70% increase), coffee pods (up 56%) and handheld ice creams (a 45% increase). With fewer socialising and gifting opportunities, sales of confectionery (+2%) were subdued.

 

'In terms of retailer performance over the longer 12-week period ending 26th of December, Lidl led the way with bumper growth of 20.9% year-on-year.'

Beer, wine and spirits was the fastest-growing category overall and traditional indulgences were still popular with consumers, with sales up for champagne (going up 18%) and crémant sparkling wine (gone up 51%). Many consumers also marked the festivities by experimenting with cocktail making, with a significant increase in sales for tequila (increasing 59%), flavoured vodka (a hike of 50%) and spiced rum (up 47%).

In terms of retailer performance over the longer 12-week period ending 26th of December, Lidl led the way with bumper growth of 20.9% year-on-year. This was well ahead of key rival Aldi, which continued its recent run of comparatively weak performance with sales up only 7.9%.

Morrisons was the top performer among the Big Four supermarkets with growth of 9.2%.  Waitrose also recorded strong growth (going up 9.3%), although it was a disappointing month for its key rival M&S. The retailer, which has spent the last year revamping its food offer, usually does relatively well at Christmas but this year only recorded growth of 2%.

Morrisons was the top performer among the Big Four supermarkets with growth of 9.2%.  Waitrose also recorded strong growth (going up 9.3%), although it was a disappointing month for its key rival M&S. The retailer, which has spent the last year revamping its food offer, usually does relatively well at Christmas but this year only recorded growth of 2%.