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Share of households buying groceries online falls to lowest level since October

Written by on 17/08/2021

The share of households buying groceries online has fallen to the lowest level since October as lockdown restrictions loosen, according to industry data.

Figures from Kantar showed that just over 20% ordered deliveries from supermarkets over the internet in the 12 weeks to 8 August.

The overall share of grocery sales made online stands at 13%, down from a peak of 15.4% in February, Kantar said.

Ocado vans
Image: Ocado sales for the first time on Kantar records

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “Take up of online grocery shopping grew rapidly during the pandemic, but as lockdown restrictions have loosened a divide is beginning to emerge.

“Those who have come to love the convenience of an online shop are sticking with it, ordering regularly and spending on average more than two-thirds of their total grocery bill online.

“But the unconverted are starting to drop away, preferring to get back to store instead.”

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Online-only brand Ocado, which has enjoyed a rapid surge in sales over the last couple of years, saw sales fall by 0.7% compared to the same period last year – the first fall ever recorded in the data.

But that was still smaller than the declines posted by most of its rivals, as the Kantar figures showed overall sales for the sector declining by 4% on 2020 levels.

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However, the data showed that the pace of decline slowed over the most recent few weeks and sales levels were still 9.9% higher than the same period in 2019.

Mr McKevitt said: “In the past month grocery sales were just 0.5% lower than this time last year, the best four-week ending market performance since April.

“In monetary terms at least, we seem to be in a similar place to 12 months ago, but if we dig deeper into the data we can see that our shopping habits are actually very different.

“With the end of social distancing restrictions people have been happier to head into stores to make more regular, smaller shops.

“Consumers made an extra 108,000 shopping trips this month, while average basket sizes were 10% smaller.”

The latter part of the 12-week data from Kantar covers a period when rules on wearing masks in stores were dropped, though shoppers are still being encouraged to do so.

Supermarket sales have thrived during the pandemic at a time when their stores remained open while other retailers deemed non-essential were forced to close – though profits have been crimped by staffing and social distancing costs.

 Sky News

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