Britain's grocery sales growth slows as habits inch towards normality

LONDON (Reuters) - British grocery sales grew 14.4% in the 12 weeks to Aug. 9, a slight decline from last month’s data as shopping habits eased back towards normality after months of coronavirus lockdown, industry data showed on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: A woman shops at a Sainsbury's store in London, Britain December 3, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Market researcher Kantar said the growth was down from 14.6% in its July report and 18.9% in June’s, with the data showing the market is moving away from the heady sales heights of the lockdown period.

It said Britons’ grocery spend of 9.7 billion pounds ($12.8 billion) over the past four weeks was the lowest since February, though still considerably higher than pre-pandemic levels.

“While things are far from normal, the data shows a gradual softening of the more extreme lockdown trends in the grocery market,” said Charlotte Scott, Kantar’s consumer insight director.

One of the most significant lockdown trends, online shopping, reached another new record market share in the latest four weeks, with 13.5% of all sales now ordered through the internet, the researcher said.

Online grocer Ocado was the standout performer with sales growth of 45.5%, registering a record market share of 1.8%.

Morrisons, Britain’s No. 4 supermarket group, was the best performer of the country’s big four grocers with a sales rise of 16%.

Market leader Tesco saw growth of 12.8%, followed by No. 2 Sainsbury’s with growth of 10.9%. Walmart owned Asda was again the laggard with growth of 9.5%. Asda reports second-quarter results later on Tuesday.

German owned discounters Aldi and Lidl had sales growth of 12.7% and 15.7% respectively, though the former again lost market share.

Rival researcher Nielsen also highlighted slowing sales growth in its August report.

Market share and sales growth (%)

12 wks to 12 wks to pct change

Aug. 9 2020 Aug. 11 2019 in sales

Tesco 26.6 27.0 12.8

Sainsbury’s 14.9 15.4 10.9

Asda 14.3 14.9 9.5

Morrisons 10.2 10.1 16.0

Aldi 7.9 8.1 12.7

Co-operative 7.1 6.6 22.4

Lidl 5.9 5.9 15.7

Waitrose 4.7 4.9 9.7

Iceland 2.4 2.2 29.2

Ocado 1.8 1.4 45.5

Source: Kantar

($1 = 0.7593 pounds)

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Sarah Young and David Evans