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Retail soars as foodservice and exports suffer

November saw the highest monthly value of British grocery sales ever, with shoppers spending £10.9 billion. That record is only expected to stand for a month, with sales of £12 billion in December on the cards, according to market researchers Kantar. Cedric Porter reports.

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Retail soars as foodservice and exports suffer

Just as in spring, November lockdowns boosted grocery sales as people increased the number of meals they ate at home. Unlike spring there appeared to be less reluctance to go out shopping.

 

Fraser McKevitt, head of Kantar’s retail and consumer insight, said: “November as a whole saw shopper frequency hit its highest level since the beginning of the pandemic, suggesting more confidence among people going into stores.”

 

There was a rush to stock up before the English lockdown came into force on November 5, with sales up 17 per cent that week.


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The closure of pubs and restaurants resulted in retail alcohol sales jumping by a third in November compared to the same month last year.

 

For many Christmas came early, with November turkey sales up 36 per cent on last year.

 

Online retailing continues to grow fast, accounting for nearly 14 per cent of all grocery sales in November. In the last three months Ocado sales have increased by 38.3 per cent, with the company’s profits expected to double this year.

 

Both ends of the value market have been growing.

 

Discounter Lidl’s sales were up 13.9 per cent in November, with strong demand for frozen food pushing Iceland sales up 21 per cent.

 

Researchers Mintel expected discounter sales to be 30 per cent higher by 2025 at £31 billion.

 

Meanwhile, Waitrose experienced a 13.2 per cent increase in demand, with meat sales up a quarter.

 

Percentage growth in grocery sales November 2019 versus November 2020

Per cent increase

Ocado

38.3

Iceland

21

Lidl

13.9

Morrisons

13.7

Waitrose

13.2

Sainsbury’s

10.8

Tesco

10.4

Co-op

9.8

Asda

7.7

Aldi

7

Source: Kantar

 

Restaurant closures hit hard

 

Grocery’s gain has come on the back of foodservice’s pain.

 

Only 6.2 per cent of Britain’s restaurants and pubs were open at the end of November, according to analysts CGA.

 

That compared to 80.4 per cent at the end of September.

 

No English hospitality establishments were open at the end of November, while 40 per cent of Scottish and Welsh venues were open.

 

The easing of English lockdowns had a very limited impact on the hospitality sector.

 

Only 2.3 per cent of English hospitality venues are in Tier 1 where six members of different households can gather.

 

Nearly 60 per cent of establishments are in Tier 2 where restaurant and pub visits are limited to members of the same household.

 

The remaining 39 per cent of venues are shut altogether. Welsh pubs and restaurants also had to close last

week after a spike in Covid-19 cases.

 

Peter Martin, of CGA, said: “Curfews, strict limits on socialising and local bans on selling alcohol without food have all conspired against hospitality businesses and many are now in a critical condition at a time of year when they should be making the cash that tides them through winter.”

 

Hospitality sites trading at the end of key months in 2020

Per cent open at end of August

Per cent open at end of September

Per cent open at end of October

Per cent open at end of November

England

77.1

81.1

78.1

0

Scotland

71.2

76

34.9

40.4

Wales

72.3

76.7

0

42.2

Great Britain

76.3

80.4

69.9

6.2

Source: CGA

 

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