Supermarket sales fall as pre-pandemic shopping routines return to UK

Supermarket sales have fallen by 3.8% over the latest 12-week period (to 23 January), as inflation adds as much as £180 to the average household’s annual grocery bill.

The latest take-home grocery figures from Kantar show that while UK supermarket sales dipped, actual still remains 8% higher than its pre-pandemic levels – indicating the tough comparisons against 2021’s lockdown figures.

The news comes as households across Britain are tightening their belts as the cost of living continues to rise. The latest four-week grocery price inflation stands at 3.8%, a 0.3% rise from December.

During the pandemic, shoppers were buying in bulk and visiting the supermarket less often. As shopping patterns return to normal, basket sizes are now 10% smaller than this time last year, hitting their lowest level since March 2020.

Read more: Prices rises see shoppers switch to Aldi and Lidl 

Footfall has also increased by 5%, with every major grocer reporting busier stores.

Particularly notable were London’s changing habits, where take-home sales of food and drink decreased by 11%, suggesting that a return to eating out in cafés, pubs and restaurants was quickly embraced by those living and working in the capital.

There was also evidence of people scrubbing up as they returned to workplaces and socialising increased, with razor blade sales rising by 14% and deodorant sales increasing by 20%.

The move back to physical shopping also saw online grocery sales take a hit. Online orders were down by 15% year-on-year, although they still account for 12.5% of all grocery spend, almost double the pre-pandemic level.

Lidl and Aldi recorded simultaneous growth for the first time since June last year, increasing both sales and market share. Tesco’s market share also grew, rising from 27.3% to 27.9%, while Waitrose’s market share increased by 0.1% to 5.1%.

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