Digital sales down 8% as festive shopping returns to stores

Online sales have plunged by almost a tenth as shoppers headed out of their homes for Christmas shopping.

According to NielsenIQ, supermarket visits have increased 6.5 per cent in the four weeks to November 6, meaning an extra 28 million trips since last year.

The number of digital sales is down 8.6 per cent in four weeks, falling to 12.2 per cent of the grocery market.

Analysts put this down to customers opting for smaller baskets because they “no longer need to stock up”.

READ MORE: Covid-19: Online grocery sales plummet for the first time on record

However, with the number of households shopping online slipping just three per cent since last year, some lockdown habits are sticking.

Store sales are down two per cent thanks to 2020’s “high comparatives”, when people bought essentials ahead of the second lockdown.

Compared to the same period in 2019, purchases are up 4.9 per cent.

“Spending is expected to remain robust for the next six weeks with Christmas advertising campaigns now helping to boost the festive shopping momentum,” NielsenIQ head of retailer Mike Watkins said.

“Last year, Christmas was effectively cancelled, so this year we can expect shoppers to be spending far more than last year on festive food and drink.

“We anticipate that shoppers will spend a total of £33 billion across the major supermarkets in Q4.”

Over the last 12 weeks, Aldi (7.9 per cent) and Lidl (10.3 per cent) saw strong sales growth helped by new store openings.

Marks & Spencer also bloomed at 9.1 per cent, signalling that “shoppers are also looking for special treats and indulgences ahead of the festive season”.

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