British supermarket sales increased by 10.1% in the four weeks to November 28 year-on-year, with growth peaking at 13% in the week to November 7, as shoppers prepared for England's second national lockdown, data from market researcher Nielsen showed on Tuesday.
England's second lockdown to stem rising COVID-19 infections started on November 5 and ran until December 1.
All non-essential shops had to close, along with pubs, cafes and restaurants, except to offer takeaway food. People were also encouraged to work from home if possible. All those factors help supermarket sales.
Nielsen said shoppers continued to limit their visits to stores, with visits down 12% compared with the same time last year. However, they continued to spend more each time they shopped, on average 16% more.
Sales of frozen food were up 19.7%, while sales of alcohol soared 23.2%.
Online sales increased by 109% compared with the same period last year, with the online share of grocery spend reaching 13.6%, compared with 7.1% in November 2019 and not far from the 14% peak seen in June of this year.
“Pandemic lifestyle shopping habits have now become engrained for UK shoppers, and are likely to remain for some time," commented Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight. "Ongoing restrictions means that shoppers will continue to plan ahead and it’s no different when it comes to the Christmas grocery shop.
“With the peak Christmas period fast approaching, there are limited opportunities for shoppers to entertain this year and any gatherings that do take place will be smaller. We can see that shoppers are preparing for this where they can - buying packaged grocery, alcohol and frozen food - and many have planned their online orders early."
Nielsen anticipates that up to £1 billion (€1.10 billion) more will be spent on groceries this December, compared with last year.