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"Impressive" online drinks uplift here to stay

Published:  08 June, 2020

The influx of new online shoppers looks set to be sustainable, with alcoholic drinks to the fore of this growth in ecommerce.

These are the findings from the most recent Kantar FMCG Panel, with figures revealing that 50% of the online sales growth across all grocery categories in the two months to 17 May 2020 have come from “those who didn’t buy in the previous months”.

Moreover, the research suggests that this growth will not be lost as lockdown eases, as the influx of new-to-ecommerce shoppers is being retained, with evidence that these people are being converted to online purchasing on a more permanent basis.

The ongoing impact for the off-sales drink trade is potentially huge, witnessed in a 49.9% year-on-year uplift in sales in May, following a 26.6% uplift in April and 21.6% uplift in March, when the UK went in to lockdown, fast on the heels of the closure of the on-trade.

In the four weeks to 17 May, alcohol sales across all off-trade channels topped all other grocery sub-categories, though with the caveat that the Kantar figures break down food sales into such headers as ‘sweet home cooking’, ‘savoury home cooking’, ‘frozen meat’ and ‘fresh meat’, etc, allowing combined alcohol to rise to the top.

Unsurprisingly against the backdrop of Covid-19 lockdown, ecommerce has been the fastest growing channel for all retailers, but supermarkets have been the biggest contributor to this growth in terms of overall volume.

However, from a much smaller base of total market share, independent retailers have show then biggest uplift, with a 73% uplift in the typical contribution of ecommerce to overall consumer spend.

Increased online shopper numbers have been matched by ‘bigger baskets’, too, with those same new and returning online shoppers spending more per shop on their beers, wines and spirits (BWS).

“Online is finally keeping up with demand and, as a result, the channel is seeing impressive growth as shoppers prefer the safety of Online shopping,” said Kantar.

The trend to online BWS sales has been growing for some time, as confirmed by the most recent IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, revealing that online sales in BWS climbed 94.9% year-on-year, against a backdrop of all online retail growing to a 12-year high, up 32.7%, to the end of May 2020.