Grocery sales in the four weeks to 22 March jumped by 20.6%, the biggest growth on record, the latest data from Kantar shows.
Presenting in its latest webinar on “Ensuring resilience in retail”, Fraser McKevitt, head of retail & consumer insight, Worldpanel Divison, Kantar, said the numbers were eye opening.
While the 7.6% growth rate for the last 12 weeks was not unprecedented, the change over the last three, four-weekly periods had been, McKevitt added.
In the four weeks to 26 January sales rose by a modest 0.8% and by 1.4% in the four weeks to 23 February. The spike, which appeared in the latest four-week period, delivered sales of £10.8bn.
McKevitt suggested the rush was not just driven by stockpiling. “It’s more subtle than that,” he said.
While average basket sizes did increase by around 5% to £19.46 per basket, extra trips fuelled sales with 20 trips per household, an increase of 15%. “The spend per trip has not gone up massively but the frequency has – that’s why shops are so busy,” McKevitt said.
Growth came from across the store spectrum but surged 30% in convenience stores, 19% in standard bricks and mortar stores and by 13% online, where constraints in the system held back penetration to below 15%. “Until retailers adjust capacity, that number is not going to shift substantially upwards,” said McKevitt.
And, despite the strong gains in convenience, bricks and mortar stores still capture three quarters (76%) of total spending or 73% of the £10.8bn growth.
Household spend also soared in March with the average household spending £63.00 more, rising to £82.00 per month in London and £88.00 per month among larger households. However, there was evidence that less affluent consumers were not stocking up as much as those with more money, McKevitt added.