Online grocery sales fall for first time as people return to work

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Online grocery sales fell for the first time ever in the latest three months, according to new research from data group Kantar.


Total grocery sales fell by 5.1% in the twelve weeks to 11 July 2021 as shopping reverted back to more normal patterns after the Covid-19 boost this time a year ago.


Overall spending was still GBP3bn higher than this time in 2019, said the researcher, but the surprise was in the year-on-year decline in the online segment.


People returning to work, going out to pubs and restaurants again and shopping in shops again was the reason, suggested Kantar.


Reflecting the trend, Ocado PLC’s (LON:OCDO) growth slowed to 3% over the period, though all round the trend was lower with only Waitrose posting higher sales among the bricks and mortar operators.


Football was another factor, with beer sales rising 24% to GBP1.2bn though Kantar said here too it might have expected better with England’s run in the Euros.


Take home sales in July fell compared to the previous month as fans went out to watch the games.


Even though it slowed, Ocado still posted the best growth and increased its market share by 0.1%.


“Waitrose lost shoppers last year when people focused more on picking up essentials and limiting trips outside the home. But as the nation becomes more confident and starts to buy groceries from multiple places again, it has outpaced its peers with increasing footfall and as a result, its market share rose by 0.3 percentage points to 5.0%,” said Kantar.


Morrison’s (LON:MRW) bidders might not be too impressed with the 6.7% sales decline it notched up, with Sainsbury’s (LON:SBRY) and Tesco (LON:TSCO) comfortably the best of the big four though they still posted falls of 3% and 3.7% respectively.


Tesco also achieved its biggest year-on-year market share increase since December 2016, growing from 26.7% last year up to 27.1% in the latest 12 weeks.


“Sainsbury’s, where online sales continue to perform strongly, moved its share up to 15.2% from 14.9% last year,” added Kantar.

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