Retail

UK grocery sales hit record 10.9 billion pounds in November – Kantar

LONDON (Reuters) – November was the best month ever for UK grocery market sales, with 10.9 billion pounds ($14.6 billion) spent, as out of home eating and drinking was restricted by England’s second national lockdown, industry data showed on Tuesday.

Market researcher Kantar said grocery sales rose by 11.3% in the 12 weeks to Nov. 29 year-on-year and were up 13.9% year-on-year in the last four of those weeks.

It forecast spend to be close to 12 billion pounds in December, around 1.5 billion pounds more than during the same month last year.

England’s second lockdown to stem rising COVID-19 infections started on Nov. 5 and ran until Dec. 1.

All non-essential shops had to close, along with pubs, cafes and restaurants, except to offer takeaway food. People were also encouraged to work from home if possible. All those factors boosted supermarket sales.

“November as a whole saw shopper frequency hit its highest level since the beginning of the pandemic, suggesting more confidence among people going into stores,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

Many people have begun the countdown to Christmas already, with sales of turkeys up by 36% and alcohol spend 33% higher than in the same four weeks last year, McKevitt said.

Kantar said more than six million households shopped at a grocer online in November, the highest ever, with digital platforms accounting for 13.7% of all sales – also a record.

Of Britain’s big four supermarket groups, No. 4 player Morrisons again outperformed rivals over the 12 week period with sales growth of 13.7%.

Second-ranked Sainsbury’s saw growth of 10.8%, with market leader Tesco (LON:TSCO) on 10.4%. Walmart (NYSE:WMT) owned Asda was again the laggard with growth of 7.7%.

Shares in Morrisons were up 1.5% at 0910 GMT, with Sainsbury’s up 0.9% and Tesco up 0.4%.

Kantar said grocery inflation was 1.4% for the 12-week period. Prices are rising fastest in markets such as canned colas, pork and sausages while falling in vegetables, bread and beef.