Trips to the supermarket are back on the shoppers’ lists

Consumers have rushed back to supermarkets for their Christmas food purchases and have achieved the highest number of visits to stores since the stock market frenzy at the start of the pandemic.

Grocery sales hit £ 11.7 billion last month and £ 31.7 billion in the 12 weeks leading up to Boxing Day, according to Kantar, the market research group. Sales are 3 percent lower than the 2020 level when tougher coronavirus restrictions were in place, so people bought more food to eat at home, but 8 percent higher than in 2019.

Despite increasing cases of Covid-19 due to the prevalence of the Omicron variant and isolation requirements, online grocery sales fell by 3.7 percent in December compared to the year before. As a result, online sales accounted for 12.2 percent of total food sales, down from the 14 percent recorded during the peak of the pandemic.

In the run-up to the festive season, there were concerns that the supply chain’s challenges and labor shortages would result in gaps on the shelves and a shortage of key items, such as turkeys. But customers seemed to be confident that their local supermarkets would have the goods they wanted.

Fraser McKevitt, head of insight at Kantar, said: “The real driving force behind bumper sales on December 23 was not online as we saw the largest number of visits to the store since March 2020 [in] this month. Shoppers clearly trusted that the supermarket shelves would remain well stocked, and they did not feel the need to rush out much earlier to get their favorite festive treats. “

Clive Black, an analyst at Shore Capital, said: “Christmas 2021 was pretty good for shoppers in the UK from our store visit; there were plenty of sprouts and turkeys – too many in some cases … The availability of key products was okay, although throughout the store there were differences with Marks & Spencer and Tesco clearly stronger than the market in general on these targets. “

Shoppers were eager to pamper themselves after the previous year’s Covid disruption, resulting in record sales of premium lines. Sales of the supermarkets’ expensive assortments, which include the Tesco Finest and Iceland Luxury lines, increased by 6.8 per cent to £ 627 million compared to the previous year.

Grocery prices were also 3.5 percent higher last month, adding nearly 15 pounds more to average monthly grocery bills as inflation began to bite after supermarkets passed on higher labor costs.

Ocado, which sells Marks & Spencer groceries online, was the only grocery store to increase sales during the 12-week period leading up to Christmas, boosting sales by 2.5 percent after adding more delivery slots than the previous year.

Tesco outperformed its major rivals, increasing its market share by 0.6 percent to 27.9 percent, the highest level since January 2018, although sales fell by 2.9 percent compared to the year before, according to Kantar. Asda sales fell 3.9 percent, Sainsbury’s sales fell 4.4 percent, while sales at Morrisons, which has recently become private by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, fell 6.6 percent. Tesco and Sainsbury’s are both reporting next week on their festive trade figures.

Aldi’s sales were flat, while Lidls’s fell by 0.3 per cent. Waitrose sales fell 1.4 percent and Iceland fell 6.1 percent. Giles Hurley, Aldi’s CEO, said: “Our market-leading performance showed that customers were seasonal, making sure they enjoyed the family Christmas they deserved after a difficult year by filling up early and spending on luxury at low prices. “

One of Sir Terry Leahy’s former lieutenants in Tesco has been hired by Asda to run its stores.

Ken Towle spent three decades climbing the ranks at Tesco, traveling in April 2015 for a consulting job before taking on a CEO at Nisa, the convenience chain now owned by the cooperative. Towle will join Asda later this year as retail director.

Leahy is now chairman of Morrisons after leading Clayton, Dubilier & Rice’s takeover of the supermarket, whose CEO is David Potts, another former Tesco director.

Towle, 57, said: “It’s an exciting time to be part of the Asda team and I’m really looking forward to getting started.”

Asda is still without a CEO, four months since Roger Burnley left prematurely after disagreeing on strategy with the new owners, the Issa brothers.

Asda was bought in 2019 by petrol forecourt powers Mohsin and Zuber Issa and TDR Capital for a £ 6.8 billion deal. The UK’s third largest supermarket, founded in 1949, has 145,000 employees and around 630 stores.

Derek Lawlor, who has run Asda’s commercial team for the past two years, is also leaving the grocery store, marking another senior loss following the departure of Anthony Hemmerdingers, chief operating officer, and Preyash Thakrar, chief strategic officer, in September.

Asda announced it had poached Kris Comerford, most recently Tesco’s UK commercial director for packaged food, fuel and tobacco, and it was moving Simon Gregg, who currently runs the grocery store’s online operations, to its management team. It also promotes Liz Evans, who recently joined Asda from running FatFace, the fashion brand, to the board.

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