Sainsbury’s promotional levels returning to normal; frozen pastry and dough rises to most in-demand grocery product in UK supermarkets, new insights show


Frozen pastry and dough was the most in demand grocery product at UK supermarkets in the week ending 10 May 2020, with an 8.8% increase in out of stock products compared with the week before, reveals new insight from analysts at global retail insights firm Edge by Ascential.

Frozen pastry and dough overtakes tinned pasta, which was the most in-demand grocery product for the last two consecutive weeks. However, with stock levels increasing, tinned pasta now ranks as the fifth most out of stock category this week with unavailable products falling by 4.7%. Other popular products in the top five include dry pasta (-0.7%) toilet tissue (-5.5%) and facial tissues (-1.2%). 

Tinned fruit was also in high demand among consumers, experiencing the same 8.8% increase as frozen dough and pastry, despite its overall stock levels being more stable. Frozen sausages also saw an increase in out of stock levels by 6.6% compared to the previous week. 

In a separate analysis, Edge by Ascential analysts found that in terms of promotions, there has been little change over the last three weeks in Asda, Morrisons and Tesco. However, Sainsbury’s, Ocado and Waitrose increased promotions three weeks ago and have since maintained these levels. Overall, the number of promotions across the five retailers are still 36% lower than the January average, yet in terms of individual performance, Sainsbury’s promotional levels have started to return to normal, with figures just -4% below the average in January.

Edge by Ascential analysts also observed the following changes in the last week ending 10th May:

  • Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose all experienced increased availability across the week, with Sainsbury’s having the greatest increase of products in stock by up to 2.1%. This was led by soap (+19%), kitchen towels (+20.7%) and toilet paper (+16.4%).
  • Morrisons had fluctuating levels of availability, and as of 10th May, its current level of out of stock products is at its lowest in the last eight weeks, excluding last weekend.
  • Rice (-9.4%) had the biggest rise in availability over the last week, which led to it falling out of the top five most unavailable categories. This was followed by cough liquids (-8.6%) and soap (-7.9%).

Edge by Ascential is continually monitoring the online stock levels of essential products at major UK supermarkets in light of the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This follows from the UK government’s instructions for UK consumers to remain at home in a ‘lockdown’ that was implemented on 23rd March in order to control and minimise the spread.

Chris Elliott, insight manager at Edge by Ascential, said: “This week we’ve noticed a slight shift in the products that are most in demand among UK consumers. It seems that consumers are moving away from restocking some of the shelf-stable necessities, such as canned pasta and rice, and moving towards less essential items like frozen dough and pastry and canned fruit. This could suggest that restless consumers are focussing more on their cooking and experimenting with baking, following week eight in lockdown. However, it’s also evident that supermarkets are responding to the demand from shoppers, as overall availability in the last week has increased across the UK supermarkets, signalling a slow return to normality as lockdown restrictions are eased.”