Year-on-year grocery sales in the UK have grown by the fastest rate in more than a decade during the past 12 weeks, soaring up 7.6%, according to new share figures from Kantar Worldpanel, driven largely by the coronavirus pandmic.
In the most recent four weeks, there was nearly three times higher at 20.6%, pushing March up to the biggest month of grocery sales ever recorded.
The UK has seen grocery sales higher than during Christmas periods - usually the highest grossing time of the year.
“It has been an extraordinary month and social distancing measures have had a profound impact on all our daily lives – from the way we work and socialize, to how we shop and care for our loved ones," commented head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, Fraser McKevitt.
"Retailers and their staff have been on the frontline as households prepare for an extended stay at home, with grocery sales amounting to US$13.4 billion during the past four weeks alone."
This growth is attributed to people making additional shopping trips and buying slightly
more than usual amid the COVID-19 crisis. For UK shoppers, the average consumer spent an extra £62.92 on groceries over the past four weeks.
Yet, McKevitt cautioned, "We expect restrictions on movement and relatively full grocery cupboards will mean the incredibly high levels of shopping trips made in March will drop off over the coming weeks. Regular trips to smaller local stores are likely to continue, as people avoid travelling and queues."
Sainsbury’s topped the list with a growth of 7.4% over the past three months, with Tesco (5.5%), Asda (4.9%) and Morrisons (4.6%) all showing positive numbers..
One of the biggest areas of growth was online, which saw a 13% increase year-over-year. Ocado's partnership with Marks & Spencer saw a dramatic 12.5% rise year-over-year during the three months.
“Government advice may have been to get groceries delivered if possible, but limited delivery slots meant that only 14.6% of households received an online delivery in the past four weeks, up from 13.8% in March 2019 but probably well below actual demand,” McKevitt said. "For the month of March in London, spending was up 26%. As restaurants are closed throughout many parts of the region, more shoppers are seeking fresh produce to cook from home."