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Supermarket BWS sales stay strong

Published:  19 August, 2020

Sales of beer, wine and spirits (BWS) through supermarkets increased 20% in the past four weeks, while total grocery sales slowed down.  

Total grocery sales in the four weeks to 8 August were ahead by 7% compared to just 1% growth during the same period in 2019 as shoppers settled into new post-lockdown shopping habits, according to new Nielsen data released today. 

The warm weather, coupled with Brits working from home and spending less on dining out and embarking on UK ‘staycations’ over the summer had all contributed to the steady growth in UK grocery sales over the four weeks, said Nielsen

The only of the bigger categories to outperform BWS were flour (+47%) and sugar and sweeteners (+25%) as Brits rekindled their love of baking.  

Online sales accounted for 97% of the overall growth, a total of £658m, with sales made in-store up by just £20m.

"It is evident that some new shopping habits that developed as a result of the pandemic, such as opting to shop online, continue. UK shoppers are now establishing a new, regular shopping routine and we can expect the current levels of growth to continue for the rest of the summer,” said Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight.

Shoppers were still shopping less often than they did prior to the pandemic, with visits to stores down 15% on the same period last year, but up from the 22% decrease registered in May, so there are signs of a willingness to return.

“The shift to online grocery shopping, which looks set to stay, is the most dramatic change of shopping behaviour we’ve ever seen. Though it has clearly been a positive game changer for shoppers and some retailers, it has come at the expense of stores - something that we have already seen in non-food retailing,” said Watkins.

In terms of retailer performance, Morrisons (+13.6%) continues to outperform the other ‘big four’ UK supermarkets and increase market share, but Iceland (+24.4%) has the strongest growth overall. The discounters Aldi (+10.8%) and Lidl (+9.1%) also show signs of steady growth - which, in their case, is coming almost entirely from in-store sales.