NEWS26 March 2020

UK grocery spend up 22% since March 2019

FMCG News Retail Trends UK

UK – Supermarket grocery sales increased by over 22% in the week ending 14th March, compared to the same period last year, according to Nielsen data.  

Groceries supermarket shelves_crop

The rise is attributed to shoppers increasing their purchases as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, and equates to an additional £467m more in grocery spend than the same week in March 2019.

Household and pet care items saw the biggest jump in sales (up 65%) year-on-year, followed by ambient groceries ( 62%). Health, beauty, toiletries and baby care items increased by 46% and frozen food sales went up by 33%. Sales of alcohol (beer, wine and spirits) also increased by 11%, while snacks were up 18%.

In terms of individual category growth, the biggest increase was in sales of UHT milk, up by 181%, and toilet tissue ( 140%). 

While household and shelf groceries saw increases, some fresh food categories were negatively impacted, including deli and produce items such as sandwiches (down 1%), fresh prepared fruit (-5%) and salad (-3%). Weekly sales of sushi also declined by 16%.

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said: "The week ending 14 March was the first week we witnessed retailers come under significant pressure to serve consumers, as supply chains were stretched in order to keep up with the unprecedented demand from shoppers.

"Our data shows that stockpiling has intensified as consumers continuously purchase more of the same items, leading to a noticeable rise in ‘out of stocks’. We anticipate we'll see a further surge in sales as retailers continue to work hard and put various measures in place to keep the shelves full over the next few weeks."