Locked down Britons topped up their groceries to the tune of £15.2 billion over the past year

Locked down Britons topped up their groceries to the tune of £15.2 billion over the past year, according to new data.

File photo of a shopper wearing a face mask in a supermarket.

The latest figures from Kantar show take-home grocery sales rose by 12.5% during the 12 weeks to 21 February 2021.

Sales were even stronger over the past month, increasing by 15.1%, the fastest rate of growth since June 2020 as the latest national restrictions curtailed spending in cafés, restaurants and pubs.

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Fraser McKevitt head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “The pandemic has now been making its mark on our lives and completely changing the way we shop for a full year. Various hospitality restrictions mean that we’ve eaten an extra seven billion meals at home since spring 2020.

"Office tea rounds meanwhile were replaced by brews in our own kitchens and we drank an additional two billion cups of tea in the house this year.

"Overall, shoppers have spent £15.2 billion more on groceries during the pandemic – that’s around £4,800 per household on average, an increase of £500 compared with normal times.

“But we weren’t buying more of everything. With fewer social occasions in the diary, personal care has fallen down the agenda and spending on toiletries dropped by 1%. Liquid soap and hand sanitisers proved to be an understandable exception and sales grew by 127% over the past year.”

Online grocery sales reached a new record share in the four weeks to 21 February accounting for 15.4% of sales, up from 8.7% last year.

Mr McKevitt said: “Nearly a quarter of households bought groceries online during the past month, making the most of home deliveries especially to get hold of bulkier goods like canned foods, breakfast cereals and soft drinks.

" It’s been an extraordinary twelve months for online and three million tonnes of food alone have been delivered to people’s homes over the past year.

"It’s a habit that seems to be sticking among British consumers and internet orders now make up an average of 65% of grocery spending each month for people who do shop online. Grocers should take note of the customer satisfaction gap between online and in store – people that buy on the internet are typically 7 percentage points happier with their shopping trip than shoppers at bricks and mortar stores.”

Online specialist Ocado boosted its sales by 35.3% over the latest 12 weeks with its market share nudging up 0.3 percentage points to 1.7%. The grocer is increasing in popularity outside of its London heartland and is experiencing the greatest sales growth in the south and midlands of England.

In a statement, Kantar said: "Tesco had a strong month and grew its market share by 0.2 percentage points to 27.4%, marking the retailer’s first market share gain since December 2016 as its sales rose by 13.2%. The grocer’s success was felt across the business with online sales, larger supermarkets and smaller convenience outlets all contributing to its strong performance.

"Iceland’s market share increased by 0.3 percentage points to 2.5% and its sales rose by 23.9%. The size of the average Iceland basket grew by more than half to £19.93 compared with the same time last year, the fastest rate of increase among all the retailers. Iceland’s fresh and chilled aisles put in a standout performance, supporting the core frozen food lines that make up 39% of its total sales.

The statement added: "Morrisons also won market share, taking an extra 0.1 percentage points to reach 10.3% of the market, with sales up by 13.9%. Sainsbury’s increased sales by 12.1% to hold its market share of 15.6%. Returning to double-digit growth, Asda sales were 10.3% higher compared with a year ago while convenience retailer Co-op grew sales by 12.6% to maintain a 6.0% share of the market. Waitrose sales rose by 11.5% while Lidl’s and Aldi’s were up by 10.9% and 5.6% respectively."