Supermarket sales fall from pandemic peaks although shoppers flock to Asda

Supermarket sales have fallen from the peak highs seen a year ago when stores were stripped bare in panic buying as the Covid-19 pandemic first descended on the UK, according to new data from Kantar.

Asda's market share grew from 13.9 per cent in 2020 to 14.1 per cent

Take-home grocery sales fell 1.6 per cent in the 12 weeks to June 13 compared with 2020, although they are £3.3bn higher than the same period two years ago before the pandemic struck.

Leeds-based Asda made gains, with footfall up 29 per cent, more than any other big four retailer. Its market share also grew from 13.9 per cent in 2020 to 14.1 per cent.

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Fraser McKevitt head of retail and consumer insight, said: "Asda did suffer during the early stages of lockdown last year, particularly because people were being advised not to travel. On average, people are travelling further to Asda stores, so we are starting to see a bit of a bounceback from that."

Bradford-based Morrisons’ market share remained at 10.1 per cent as it annualised against very strong growth in June last year.

Mr McKevitt said: “Morrisons’ share price has jumped following private equity interest which came to light over the weekend. This follows nearly a year of solid retail performance for the grocer.

"In July last year it shrugged off several years of underperformance, and since then it has grown faster than the market each month until this one.

"Morrisons is starting to annualise against some pretty strong numbers. It had a pretty good Covid in terms of its stores being in the right locations and the right size."

The rise of online grocery sales also stabilised in the four weeks to June 13, remaining flat at 13.4 per cent of the total market.

However, pub reopenings failed to dent alcohol sales, which were up £29m compared with May as football fans prepared for the kick off of the Euro 2020 championship.

Mr McKevitt said: “While it’s encouraging to see shoppers returning to the habits of old, there is still a way to go before the market entirely returns to normal.

"Despite pubs and restaurants being open, take-home sales of alcohol increased by £29m compared to May in part thanks to events including the bank holiday, with another peak coming in the lead up to the much-anticipated European football championships in June.”

Supermarket footfall in the latest four weeks was down by five million trips compared with May.

The re-opening of indoor hospitality in certain parts of the country took some money away from the grocers and into the nation’s cafes and restaurants.

Consumers also enjoyed the long-awaited arrival of summer this month.

Mr McKevitt said: “Often seen as the crowning glory of British summer time, a hot late May Bank Holiday this year had shoppers celebrating.

"The first real spell of good weather in 2021 saw £33m spent on sun creams in the past four weeks, more than double the previous month."