UK supermarket sales top £7.1bn as shoppers head in-store

UK supermarket sales have topped £7.1bn in the two weeks leading up to 25 December, as shoppers combined in-store last-minute gift shopping with their preparation for the big day.

The figure, released today by NielsenIQ,  exceeds previous forecasts, which predicted that sales would to £6.8bn, up from £6.7bn in 2020. Weekly sales growth peaked at 14.8% for the week leading up to Christmas Day.

The data also reveals that Total Till grocery sales for the four weeks ending 1 January 2022 grew by 1% year-on-year. This is particularly notable as the same period in 2020 saw 8% growth as shoppers stocked up in anticipation of a full lockdown in January 2021.

Consumers also preferred to purchase their last-minute essentials in-store, with online shopping numbers dropping by 1.7% over the four-week period. In-store visits jumped by 6.3%, with consumers making 27m more in-store visits than over the same period in 2020.

Read more: Aldi cheers ‘best ever’ Christmas 

This move saw the online share of grocery sales fall to 11.3%, compared to 12.1% in December 2020, the lowest it has been since the 11.6% share seen in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

With weaker comparatives and shoppers in the mood to enjoy Christmas this year, M&S was the fastest growing food retailer over the 12-week period, with a growth of 9.4%. Lidl and Aldi (8.5% and 4.8% growth, respectively) benefited from an accelerated new store opening programme, while Tesco and Waitrose (0.1% and 0.2% drop, respectively) dipped slightly but gained market share.

NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight, Mike Watkins, declared that: “Omnichannel purchasing, shopping around and entertaining at home were the big shopping trends over the festive period.

“It was a good Christmas for food retailers with overall performance in line with expectations in the last three months, and against some very tough comparatives last December and in a very competitive retail environment.

“British consumers are continuing to adopt an omnichannel approach and while online allows them to plan ahead, shoppers are increasingly heading in-store for a regular weekly shop as well as for last-minute purchases and we can expect this behaviour to continue.”

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