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Supermarket BWS sales up 17%

Published:  13 October, 2020

Sales of beer, wine and spirits (BWS) through supermarkets increased 17% in the four weeks to 3 October, meaning the category remained the fastest growing, according to new Nielsen research.

Total grocery sales growth increased from 5.6% to 8.3% as the sector benefitted from the end of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme and the reinforced ‘work from home’ message at the end of September.  

The trend towards online shopping continued apace, with total online FMCG growth up 91% during the period, boosted by supermarkets adding additional delivery slots.  

Nielsen data also shows that in the last 12 weeks, 10.6 million shoppers used online to do their grocery shop – up from 7.2 million at the same time last year. 

Store visits have been down 11% in the last four weeks compared to this time last year, but are up from the low point of April.

“Whilst shoppers are slowly becoming more comfortable returning to stores, online remains the biggest winner and a third of shoppers who shopped online in the last 12 weeks are new to online,” said Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight.  

“Shoppers who first shopped online in the early summer are staying online and making repeat purchases. This  means online is likely to take an even bigger share of sales as we head into the festive period, and we expect it to hit around 15% of all FMCG sales over the next few months,” he said.

Other categories showing strong overall growth during the four weeks include frozen, disinfectants and toilet tissue and household cleaning accessories, although these growths are far below the levels seen during the peak of the pandemic and did not suggest the return of panic buying just yet, said Watkins.

“Since March, households in the UK have had to continually adjust to new ways of working, living and eating. This is reflected in the volatility of weekly FMCG sales. Yet, after many months of living with the pandemic, some shoppers are getting more accustomed to this ‘new normal’ and there hasn’t been any strong signs of stockpiling like we had earlier in the year.” 

In terms of retailer performance over the last 12 weeks, Morrisons (+8.7%) remains the top performer of the ‘big four’ supermarkets. 

However, Ocado is still the fastest growing retailer with FMCG sales up 46%. There was also strong growth from Lidl (+14%), which now overtakes Iceland (+12.9%). 

This is likely a result of Lidl launching its new loyalty app at the beginning of the month, offering shoppers multiple savings and adding momentum to its sales.