Beast from the East plays havoc with shopping habits

A farmer in a tractor helps to clear the snow. Photo credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
A farmer in a tractor helps to clear the snow. Photo credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
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The ‘Beast from the East’ played havoc with consumers’ usual shopping plans, though retailers only lost out on £22m in grocery sales, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

Kantar’s latest grocery market share figures showed that during the cold snap, shoppers stockpiled groceries buying 4 per cent more items than normal, increasing the average value of a trip from £14.99 to £15.80, but they visited stores 5 per cent less,

Date: 1st March 2018. Picture James Hardisty. Persistent snow fall over night in Yorkshire, from the polar vortex nicknamed  'Beast from the East' which has hits Britain with snow and freezing temperatures and could last most of the week causing horrific conditions for commuters. Pictured Members of the public braving the conditions in Leeds City Centre.

Date: 1st March 2018. Picture James Hardisty. Persistent snow fall over night in Yorkshire, from the polar vortex nicknamed 'Beast from the East' which has hits Britain with snow and freezing temperatures and could last most of the week causing horrific conditions for commuters. Pictured Members of the public braving the conditions in Leeds City Centre.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “The Beast from the East played havoc with consumers’ usual shopping plans. In the run up to and during the cold snap, shoppers stockpiled groceries buying 4 per cent more items than normal, increasing the average value of a trip from £14.99 to £15.80.

“However, they simultaneously visited stores 5% less often as they stayed wrapped up at home, meaning overall lost sales from the storm were minimised to £22m. Warming foods and drinks were the go-to items for customers after braving the snowy weather – sales of hot beverages and tinned soup grew by 8.4 per cent and 27.5 per cent respectively over the past month.”

German discounters Aldi and Lidl hit new market share highs as they continued to make their mark in the sector.

“Aldi and Lidl are continuing to disrupt the market. As the discounters proceed with the expansion of their store portfolios, over the past 12 weeks 63.5% of all households visited at least one of the retailers,” Mr McKevitt said.

Over the past 12 weeks Tesco experienced a sales increase of 2.4 per cent to hold market share steady at 27.6 per cent – the first time it has held share since December 2016 – attracting an additional 262,000 customers through its doors. The leading supermarket saw sales growth of branded goods overtake own-label groceries for the first time since June 2015.

Bradford-based Morrison’s also saw sales increase by 2.4 per cent with a resulting market share of 10.4 per cent. Growth at the supermarket was helped by a strong performance in online sales, with Morrison’s e-commerce offering proving particularly popular among younger, more affluent shoppers.

Despite encouraging shoppers to up the size of their baskets by 2.4 per cent – the fastest increase experienced amongst the big four – Leeds-based Asda’s market share fell back by 0.2 percentage points to 15.6 per cent.

Sainsbury’s also saw market share drop – down 0.3 percentage points to 15.8 per cent – despite sales growth of 0.6 per cent. The retailer has continued its move away from promotions: only 32.7 per cent of sales at Sainsbury’s were achieved while a product was on offer.

An earlier Easter this year compared to 2017 motivated consumers into starting their Easter weekend shopping during the month of March.

“Despite average prices jumping by 35p to £1.83, Easter eggs were rolling off the shelf in March with sales up 69 per cent compared to this time last year,” Mr McKevitt said. “Almost 15 million shoppers picked up Easter eggs last month while the average household, tempted by promotional offers, was swayed into buying at least two Easter eggs to meet their seasonal chocolate fix.

“Hot cross buns also saw a steep rise, with sales up £7.7m compared to this time last year.”