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Grocery sales surged to record level during lockdown in England

independent– UK grocery sales surged to their highest level on record last month as shoppers stocked up in supermarkets while pubs and restaurants closed across England.

Sales topped £10.9bn in November as more visits were made to stores than in any other month since the pandemic began – a sign that shoppers are becoming more confident venturing out.

Grocery sales jumped 17 per cent in the three days before England entered a four-week lockdown on 5 November, figures from data analytics firm Kantar show. Across the whole month, take-home sales – which include in-store purchases and click and collect – were up 13.9 per cent. Online sales rose 13.7 per cent.

Sales of festive products soared, with households spending 238 per cent more on Christmas lights as they decorated their homes early and sales of turkeys up 36 per cent on last year.

The early Christmas festivities, alongside limited opportunities to drink in pubs and restaurants, sent spending on alcohol up 33 per cent higher year-on-year in November, Kantar said.

“Many people have begun the countdown to Christmas 2020 already, using more time at home to go big on festive revelry,” Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

December is expected to smash last month’s record with £12bn of sales, around £1.5bn more than last year.

Overall UK grocery sales rose 11.3 per cent to £30.8bn over the 12 weeks to 29 November.

Among the big four supermarkets, Morrisons was the top performer with sales up 13.7 per cent over the past 12 weeks and its market share increasing from 10.1 per cent to 10.3 per cent.

Sainsbury’s, which owns Argos, saw its sales leap 10.8 per cent and held its 15.7 per cent market share steady, while Tesco and Asda’s market share slipped despite rising sales, at 27 per cent and 14.1 per cent respectively.

The figures showed Ocado enjoyed the highest sales growth, up 38.3 per cent in the 12 weeks and its market share increasing from 1.4% to 1.7%, helped by its deal to start selling Marks & Spencer products.

Iceland enjoyed 21 per cent sales growth thanks to increasing popularity for freezer goods during the pandemic, while Waitrose also notched up its fastest rate of growth since 2005, at 13.2 per cent.

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