British shoppers are continuing to embrace online grocery shopping, despite a loosening of restrictions leading to increased footfall numbers in stores, Nielsen has said.
According to Nielsen data for the four weeks to 22 May, some 28% of UK households are now shopping for groceries online, which is the same percentage as a year ago, and a considerable increase on the 17% recorded in May 2019.
UK shoppers spent £1.25 billon online in the four-week period, Nielsen said.
Online's share of total grocery sales stood at 13.8% in the period, which is higher than the 13.4% recorded at the same time last year (although down marginally on the 14.2% reported in April).
“Despite lockdown restrictions easing, it is evident that online grocery remains popular with British consumers, with almost one in three households still choosing to shop online," commented Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight.
"This suggests that the shift of spend to online that we saw over the last year is now a more permanent fixture for many and part of regular grocery shopping routines. With supermarkets placing more investment in their rapid delivery and fulfilment, shoppers are no longer seeing this only as an option for one large shop. Usage is evolving to meet a wider range of shopper needs and meal occasions, no matter the basket size.”
Overall, Nielsen said that total till sales fell 2.7% in the four weeks to 22 May, with grocery sales declining 6.7% in the week ending 22 May, which was the first week that indoor cafés, pubs and restaurants reopened.
Despite this year-on-year decline, food retail sales are up 11% on the same period in 2019, Nielsen said. Also, visits to stores are up 20% on the same period last year, as a result of a loosening of restrictions.
“Looking ahead, the challenge for food retailers is to reassess shopping behaviour now when their customers have opportunities to spend elsewhere across leisure, hospitality and travel, particularly when restrictions are permanently lifted at the end of the month," added Watkins.
Last week, Kantar also reported that shoppers are returning to stores, as restrictions ease and the vaccination rollout gains pace.