UK supermarket sales slow after face masking rule | Business

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Supermarket sales have started to slow in Britain since the lockdown restrictions eased, with the introduction of mandatory face masks in stores in England and Scotland initially deterring some shoppers.Take-out grocery sales slowed 14.4% year-over-year in the three months to August 9, as more stores and outlets reopened, making shoppers less dependent on grocery retailers, according to data analytics firm Kantar, which looked at purchasing trends. in England, Scotland and Wales.

Kantar said there were 2 million fewer supermarket visits in the week after the face protection rule was introduced in England than was otherwise expected.

“It appears to have been a first step for shoppers to get used to the new regulations, and in fact the trend suggests they are now recovering to expected levels,” said Charlotte Scott, director of consumer information at Kantar.

« [Shopping] trips are now more planned than ever and we have another thing to think about and get used to, ”Scott said. Just over half of shoppers told Kantar they felt safe when they visited stores.

Consumers spent £ 9.7 billion on groceries in the four weeks to August 9, the lowest amount since February, although still significantly higher than pre-Covid levels.

Scott said shoppers made an average of 14 shopping trips per month per household – less than in July but more than in April or May, when lockdown rules were stricter.

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However, she added that localized restrictions and slower reopening in parts of the country had led to fewer shopping trips to the north of England, the Midlands and Wales.

“The loosening of rules across much of the country means that buyers are less inclined to stock their closets with large, scheduled trips,” Scott said. “It saw average spending drop below £ 25 for the first time since March. However, at £ 24, it’s still a world away from the pre-Covid average of £ 19 per trip. ”

Online shopping continued to climb, with a record 13.5% of all Internet-ordered grocery sales.

Online delivery company Ocado, which will begin a new contract to supply Marks & Spencer food products instead of Waitrose products from September 1, has been a significant beneficiary of the shift to online food shopping, according to Kantar.

Ocado held 1.8% of the grocery market in the 12 weeks leading up to August 9, down from 1.4% a year earlier. Its sales increased 45.5% compared to the same period last year.

Early reports show that the government’s “Eat Out to Help” program, designed to bring consumers back to restaurants and cafes by offering them discounted meals Monday through Wednesday in August, has increased footfall. Home.

However, the exclusion of alcoholic beverages from the rebate program also appears to have benefited retailer takeout alcohol sales, which rose 28% in the four weeks leading up to August 9.

The UK economy officially entered a recession in early August, after the deepest contraction since the record began, although Kantar said this did not appear to have had an impact on choices yet. consumer purchase.

“Early evidence suggests that most of them are not choosing to go down just yet, with the high-end brands and private label lines currently performing well,” Scott said. “However, the price drops have increased from July as some people are looking for opportunities to save.”

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