Covid fears keep grocery outlook ‘solid’ before Christmas

Rising coronavirus infections are responsible for halting the decline in grocery sales, Jefferies analysts have said.

According to a report from the investment bank, coronavirus has left people “hesitant” about visiting pubs or restaurants, and stocking up food at home instead.

With the first UK cases of the new Covid variant Omicron being reported late last month, the trend could continue over the festive period.

In the four weeks to 28 November, grocery sales rose 6.6 per cent on 2019 levels, marking “the first acceleration after a number of weeks of sequential slowing growth”.

READ MORE: Iceland will not ‘police’ face masks despite new Covid rules

The Big 4 saw two-year growth of 5.7 per cent, while Aldi and Lidl expanded by 7.5 per cent.

Jefferies explained the rise by pointing to the “rebuild in infection rates” and “slightly higher price rises”, with grocery inflation hitting a 17-month high.

The decline in online sales has also reversed, rising 1.6 per cent in the space of a month.

However, Waitrose – which leads the grocery pack for e-commerce growth – dipped from 220 per cent in October to 170 per cent in November.

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