Covid ‘fatigue’ to hit supermarkets and online shopping

Grocers will be hit with a double whammy as customers move away from their lockdown habits of cooking meals and shopping online.

Kantar head of retail Fraser McKevitt noted “signs of fatigue” with home cooking, after repeated closures of cafés and restaurants in the last 18 months.

Sales of chilled meals were up 11 per cent compared to last year, but McKevitt argued the long-term effect would be a return to hospitality businesses.

“We anticipate that a good amount of that lost cash should return to the high street this year but that means it will move away from the grocery sector,” he said.

READ MORE: Food sales increase in August, as online sales drop

Last year, hospitality spending was down £187 million on 2019 levels.

While supermarket footfall is at its highest since Easter, in-store sales dropped by 1.9 per cent and online sales continued to tumble.

The average online basket size is worth £78.28, almost £17 less than at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Online grocery’s market share has dipped to 12.2 per cent from 13 per cent four weeks ago, its lowest point since May 2020.

Ocado, the e-commerce retailer, saw sales drop by 1.5 per cent year-on-year.

However, Waitrose “bucked the trend” with sales up 2.2 per cent in 12 weeks and growth online and in-store.

Executives will be waiting nervously to see whether a £3 delivery charge from September 9 will eat a chunk out of its online deliveries.

Kantar data also shows that groceries cost 1.3 per cent more compared to last year.

Experts believe that supply chain disruption means food price inflation is “likely” in the coming months.

Last week, Iceland boss Richard Walker said the industry had tried to absorb the expenses but could not stop price increases “indefinitely”.

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