December was the 'busiest ever month' for UK supermarkets, Kantar has said, after the re-introduction of lockdown restrictions fuelled a 11.4% increase in grocery sales in the 12-week period to 27 December.
In the past four weeks alone, during Christmas, shoppers spent £11.7 billion (€12.96 billion) on groceries, Kantar said.
“December is always an incredibly busy time for supermarkets, but take-home grocery shopping is usually supplemented by celebrations in restaurants, pubs and bars – with £4 billion spent on food and drink, excluding alcohol, out of the home during the normal festive month," commented Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.
"This year, almost all those meals were eaten at home and retailers stepped up monumentally to meet the surge in demand."
In terms of the performance of the UK's biggest retailers, most grocers achieved double-digit growth in the 12-week period, with market leader Tesco (27.3% market share) seeing a 11.1% increase in sales.
Tesco's performance was driven by the 'continued success' of its Tesco Finest range, Kantar said, which featured in more than a quarter of shopping baskets during the period.
Second-placed Sainsbury's (15.9% share) saw sales up 10.7%, Asda (14.3% share) was up 7.8%, and Morrisons (10.4% share) saw sales rise by 13.1%.
Other strong performers included Iceland, which saw sales rise by 20.8%, and Lidl, which reaped the benefits of a voucher campaign to see sales rise by 15.2%.
Notably, fellow discounter Aldi saw the weakest growth of all the major supermarkets tracked by Kantar, seeing sales up 6.3%.
As in previous periods, e-commerce sales gained pace during the final period of the year, achieving record highs on 22 and 23 December.
“Cementing an extraordinary year in terms of sales and capacity growth, digital orders accounted for 12.6% of grocery spend during December, compared with only 7.4% last year," McKevitt.
"With sales over the past 12 weeks rising by 36.5%, online specialist Ocado finished the year as it started – the UK’s fastest growing retailer. This impressive growth has come despite only selling to less than 3% of households and is driven by the loyalty of its customers, who buy more than half their groceries through the retailer.”
© 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.