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Online BWS sales soar 78%

Published:  29 April, 2020

Online sales of beers, wines and spirits (BWS) surged 78% in the last four weeks making it the fastest growing grocery category in terms of sales.

The jump was “likely due” to to the category being more convenient to shop online because it’s “both heavy and shoppers don’t need to personally check it over, as they would with fresh groceries”, said Nielsen as part of its latest data release.         

Overall online sales reached 10% in the four weeks ending 18 April (Nielsen) - a rise from the 7.5% recorded at the end of 2019, while total till sales increased by just 0.8% compared to a 20.5% surge seen the previous four weeks.

One in three online customers during the period were new shoppers, with over 6.8 million consumers shopping for groceries online in the last four weeks while visits to stores were down 22% compared to this time last year. 

Moreover, the share of sales made at convenience stores - across all formats from independent to co-operatives and those of the big supermarkets - reached a new high of 30%, with sales increasing by 9%.      

The overall data reflected the lockdown shift in consumer shopping habits as Brits moved from multiple trips in-store and towards bigger baskets as well as shopping more at convenience stores and online, said Nielsen. 

“Retailers have increased online capacity significantly in the last few weeks, and they have worked quickly to adapt to the demands of shoppers amid the Covid-19 lockdown,” said Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight.  

This, he said, had been done by increasing the number of delivery slots while prioritising the more vulnerable and improving order sizes so that shoppers can minimise the frequency of shopping.

"Though this has taken away some of the footfall to stores, retailers’ impressive efficiency online in the last few weeks has relieved a lot of the pressure on store operations, which have been impacted by social distancing requirements that have limited both how we shop and what we buy.” 

However, he added, it was too soon to know whether the larger trend that has been seen in the last four weeks with the fall in visits and the shift to online would continue as the “we slowly begin to exit restricted living over the next couple of months”. 

The latest data follows IWSR research release last week that revealed ecommerce sales of BWS sales in the UK surged 50% (volume) in the first week of lockdown compared the same period last year, while sales through the off-trade were up 20%, according to the snapshot research.