Research firm Kantar has said that the strong growth seen by the UK grocery sector in recent months is likely to ebb away as the anniversary of the first national lockdown nears.
Most British grocers have posted significant year-on-year sales growth since lockdowns were first introduced in March 2020, but as the one-year anniversary of that period approaches, comparatives are likely to be tougher, Kantar said.
"Sales will then be measured against the high volumes recorded in spring and summer 2020," commented Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.
"With the vaccine rollout underway, there’s also hope that the hospitality sector will re-open, meaning demand for take-home groceries is likely to subside. Brexit has been another talking point, though steady grocery inflation of 1.3% this month suggests any pricing impact is yet to be felt by consumers.”
McKevitt was commenting as Kantar revealed the market share data for the 12-week period to 24 January 2021, in which the overall grocery market rose by 12.2%.
"As well as the usual healthy new year’s resolutions, shoppers also looked to treat themselves in January as a way of coping with another month of restrictions," he said.
"For example, vegan-specific ranges were bought by 6.6 million households this month, a 10% increase on last year, as Veganuary helped sales of those products grow by 23% in the past four weeks compared to 2020."
The re-introduction of lockdown measures meant that convenience stores, including corner shops and proximity outlets operated by the major chains, saw their strongest growth since September, at 12.9%.
Of the 'Big Four' operators, market leader Tesco (27.3% market share) saw sales up 12.2%, Sainsbury's (15.7% market share) was up 12.0%, Asda (14.6% market share) was up 9.9%, and Morrisons (10.4% market share) was up 14.3%.
Other strong performers included Ocado, which again saw sales rise by more than a third (+36.6%), frozen foods retailer Iceland (+21.8%) and discounter Lidl (+12.1%).
Notably, the weakest performer in terms of year-on-year sales growth was Aldi, which registered a 5.7% increase in sales.
© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.