Online grocery sales growth in the UK slowed to 25% in the latest four weeks ended 24 April, from 92% the previous month, the latest data from NielsenIQ has revealed.
Total till sales at UK supermarkets maintained steady growth at 4.6% in this period, despite the partial reopening of the hospitality sector.
Online grocery experienced exponential growth in the last 12 months, with sales growth remaining above 70% since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
However, visits to bricks and mortar stores increased by 3% in the latest four weeks to 24 April as lockdown restrictions eased.
This also marks the first increase in a year for bricks and mortar stores and a significant jump compared to a decline of 19% in March.
Mike Watkins, UK head of retailer and business insight at NielsenIQ, said, “As lockdown restrictions ease across the UK, it is clear that shopper behaviour has changed once again with growing confidence and growing numbers returning to stores.
“While online sales remain high, we’re noticing a rebalancing of shopper baskets as consumers spread their spend beyond the lockdown staples.”
In this period, online grocery sales amounted to £1.3 billion, the study noted.
Several product categories also returned to growth in this period including health and beauty, which saw sales grow by 27% year-on-year.
The deli and bakery categories witnessed a 28% and 15.5% growth in sales, respectively, while beers, wines and spirits saw a 9% growth.
Watkins explained, “Categories such as health and beauty, deli and bakery have experienced a boost in the last four weeks as the schools have returned and consumers are given more freedom to socialise and meet outdoors in a small group.”
Lidl (18.2%) and Aldi (10.4%) witnessed grew most rapidly in the latest 12 weeks, while Asda (4.6%) and Sainsbury’s (3.9%) were the fastest growing retailers among the big four.
Elsewhere, Marks & Spencer also experienced strong growth of 3.9% as non-essential retail reopened and more consumers sought food on the go.
“With rules set to relax further within the next few weeks, consumer lifestyles will begin to adapt and it’s likely that we’ll see another change in grocery spend as cafes, pubs and restaurants fully reopen. How far this is set to change exactly remains to be seen,” Watikins concluded.