December 8, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – British supermarket sales increased by 10.1% in the four weeks to Nov. 28 year-on-year, with growth peaking at 13% in the week to Nov. 7, as shoppers prepared for England’s second national lockdown, data from market researcher Nielsen showed on Tuesday.

England’s second lockdown to stem rising COVID-19 infections started on Nov. 5 and ran until Dec. 1.

All non-essential shops had to close, along with pubs, cafes and restaurants, except to offer takeaway food. People were also encouraged to work from home if possible. All those factors help supermarket sales.

Nielsen said shoppers continued to limit their visits to stores, with visits down 12% compared with the same time last year. However, they continued to spend more each time they shopped, on average 16% more.

Sales of frozen food were up 19.7%, while sales of alcohol soared 23.2%.

Online sales increased by 109% compared with the same period last year, with the online share of grocery spend reaching 13.6%, compared with 7.1% in November 2019 and not far from the 14% peak seen in June of this year.

Nielsen said Morrisons, Britain’s fourth biggest supermarket group by sales, continued to outperform the country’s other big four grocers, with sales growth of 9.8% over the 12 weeks to Nov. 28.

No. 2 Sainsbury’s, saw growth of 8.1%, followed by market leader Tesco on 7.6%. Walmart owned Asda was again the laggard with growth of 5.7%.

Nielsen anticipates that up to 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) more will be spent on groceries this December, compared with last year.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Mark Potter)

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