Covid-19: Online grocery shopping hits record levels during crisis

UK online grocery sales have reached record levels during the Covid-19 crisis, according to data released today by Nielsen. The analysis showed that online grocery spend totalled £1.2 billion in the four weeks ending 16 May – a year-on-year growth of 103%. According to this data, eCommerce accounted for 13% of all UK grocery sales, up from 7% in the same period last year.

The market research firm also found that there was a substantial rise in people shopping online for groceries for the first time during the four weeks, by 1.1 million. In total, 7.9 million UK households placed an online grocery order in this period, increasing from 4.8 million last year.

Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, Mike Watkins said: “Following over eight weeks in lockdown, UK shoppers are more accustomed to restricted living, and have adapted their grocery shopping habits to match. The extreme category growth experienced at the beginning of lockdown has started to ease as consumers become more confident in product availability. Online has been a clear winner over the lockdown period, as shoppers take advantage of retailers’ increased delivery capacity.”

In a separate study published today by Kantar, UK online grocery sales were found to grow by 75% in the 12 weeks up to 17 May, with eCommerce accounting for 11.5% of all grocery sales over this period. It revealed that more new shoppers have using this channel for groceries in 2020 than in the previous five years.

Fraser Mckevitt, head of retail and consumer insight, at Kantar, commented: “While the gains made by online shopping are unlikely to be sustained at these levels, the crisis has certainly accelerated the move towards online. The grocers have attracted a new group of customers, in particular older demographics, and we expect some of them may continue using online services and enjoying the convenience that home delivery provides.”