Shoppers ditch pubs and restaurants in favour of eating at home - Kantar

Consumers are ditching bars, pubs and restaurants in favour of eating at home as they try to avoid catching Covid-19.

There is only limited evidence of consumers stockpiling goods

The latest grocery market share figures from Kantar show that take-home grocery sales jumped 10.6 per cent over the last four weeks, an acceleration from September.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “Shoppers are moving a greater proportion of their eating and drinking back into the home.

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"This is likely a response to rising Covid-19 infection rates, greater restrictions on opening hours in the hospitality sector, and the end of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

"Alcohol sales alone were worth £261m more to the grocers this month than last year, with pubs, bars and restaurants limited by the 10pm curfew.”

Bradford-based Morrisons was once again the star performer among the big four, with sales rising 11.5 per cent in the 12 weeks to October 4.

Mr McKevitt said: "Everybody is growing online sales, but Morrisons is also managing to grow sales through its stores, which is the bulk of its sales.

"Footfall is down everywhere year on year, but Morrisons is getting people to put more in the basket, buy bigger baskets and spend more money on each trip.

"The nature of Morrisons' estate helps, in that the stores are not too big and not too small and customers don't have to travel far, but you can get everything you need."

He said that another reason for Morrisons' outperformance is that it offers far more promotions than its rivals.

"Morrisons has gone on a lonely path with promotions for a long time, promoting a lot more than the rest of the market," he said.

"Currently, 45 per cent of spending in Morrisons is on a deal and a considerable amount of that is on multi-buy promotions as well, which many other retailers have walked away from.

"That seems to be resonating with Morrisons' shopper base. The thing about multi-buy promotion is that it doesn't necessarily save you money at the till, but it means you get more for your money so it can be quite an effective tool for building basket sizes."

Kantar said market leader Tesco came second among the big four, with a 9.2 per cent increase in sales. Sainsbury's was third with a 6.8 per cent rise in sales and Leeds-based Asda was fourth with a 5.4 per cent rise in sales.

Mr McKevitt said Asda is being held back by its estate of large stores.

"Asda's store estate puts it in a difficult position at a time of pandemic," he said.

"Those large stores, that people typically travel further to, are not necessarily what people are looking for.

"Asda's online sales are doing very well, but what it doesn't have is any sort of local or convenience option, so that people can shop a bit closer to home.

"The billion dollar question, that I can't answer but everyone is speculating about, is will the Issa brothers, with their knowledge of convenience retailing, will they move Asda in any kind of meaningful way towards another way of selling their goods through smaller stores?"

There has been speculation that Asda's new owners, the Issa brothers, could use their petrol forecourts to roll out a nationwide Asda convenience store operation.

The Issa brothers have confirmed that they will invest in expanding Asda's convenience operations, but it is not yet clear how they will do this.

Despite an increase in Covid-19 transmissions and tightening restrictions, Mr McKevitt said there is only limited evidence of consumers stockpiling goods at a national level in the past month.

“The seven days from Monday 21 to Sunday 27 September were the busiest since March, with 107 million trips recorded, but that number was nowhere near the 175 million seen just prior to the first national lockdown," he said.

"That said, sales of toilet roll and flour rose by 64 per cent and 73 per cent during the week, showing that consumers were wary of potential new restrictions. 37 per cent of households bought toilet roll in that time, compared to the more typical 25per cent the week before, meaning increases were down to a greater number of buyers, rather than people packing trollies.”

Kantar said that more people are shopping online as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Online sales in the past month were up 76 per cent on a year ago, with one in five households ordering groceries via the internet.

The proportion of sales made digitally remains unchanged from last month at 12.5 per cent, suggesting that many shoppers are choosing to stick with deliveries as the pandemic develops.