United Kingdom

Locked-down Britons spend £15.2bn extra on groceries...

Britons spent £15.2 billion more on groceries during the pandemic as lockdowns  forced the closure of bars, pubs and restaurants, new figures have revealed today.

Households spent around £4,800 in supermarkets over the past 12 months, some £500 more than normal.

Kantar grocery data shows supermarket sales rose by 12.5 per cent in the 12 weeks to February 21 and growth ramped up to 15.1 per cent over the past month in the fastest rate since June 2020.

Tesco emerged as one of the winners of the quarter, notching up its first market share growth since December 2016 as its sales rose to 13.2 per cent. 

Morrisons saw sales go up by 13.9 per cent, Sainsbury's notched up 12.1 per cent growth and Iceland's sales rose by 23.9 per cent.

Asda was the weakest of the major chains with sales growth of 10.3 per cent.

Kantar grocery data shows supermarket sales rose by 12.5% in the 12 weeks to February 21 and growth ramped up to 15.1% over the past month in the fastest rate since June 2020

Tesco emerged as one of the winners of the quarter, notching up its first market share growth since December 2016 – at 27.4% up from 27.3% a year ago as its sales rose 13.2%

Sainsbury's dishes out pay rises 

Sainsbury's is hiking wages for staff at its supermarkets and Argos stores and will pay another bonus to its frontline workers.   

Workers at the supermarket currently receive £9.30 an hour, while Argos workers receive £9 an hour. Their pay packets will rise to £9.50 an hour this month.  

Staff at central London stores will see their hourly pay rise to £10.10.

A 3 per cent annual bonus will also be paid out to staff, meaning a full-time worker will take home an extra £530 for the year.

The announcement from Sainsbury's comes after Lidl announced a £200 bonus for 23,000 UK workers, Aldi revealed wages will rise to a minimum of £9.55 an hour and Morrisons said workers at its stores will take home at least £10 an hour from April. 

The latest pay rise from Sainsbury's means workers at the retailer have seen their pay packets rise by 24 per cent in the last five years. 

The bonus is the third since the pandemic and means the company has dished out over £100million in extra cash to workers.  

Supermarkets have been one of the biggest winners during the pandemic, remaining open throughout and enjoying surging sales while 'non-essential' retailers flounder. 

The High Street has suffered irreversible losses, with non-essential retailers and hospitality venues forced to close for the majority of the past year due to the crisis.  

Kantar said nearly a quarter of households bought groceries online during the past month as many customers have switched to shopping from home.

The data revealed online grocery sales reached another new record share in the four weeks to February 21, accounting for 15.4 per cent of sales, up from 8.7 per cent last year, according to Kantar. 

Tesco saw its first market share growth since December 2016 – at 27.4 per cent up from 27.3 per cent a year ago as its sales rose 13.2 per cent. 

Big Four rival Morrisons saw sales go up by 13.9 per cent and market share increasing to 10.3 per cent from 10.2 per cent a year earlier.

Sainsbury's notched up 12.1 per cent growth and held its share firm at 15.6 per cent, while Asda was the weakest of the major chains with its share falling to 14.8 per cent from 15.1 per cent year-on-year despite sales growth of 10.3 per cent.

Iceland's market share increased by 0.3 percentage points to 2.5 per cent and its sales rose by 23.9 per cent.

The figures showed Britons made the most of last month's Valentine's Day and Shrove Tuesday celebrations despite lockdown.

It found 3.8 million households bought boxes of chocolates in the week running up to February 14 – a rise of 18 per cent – while pancake day drove a 50 per cent jump in sales of flour and chocolate spreads and an 86 per cent surge for syrups.

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.'

But he added grocery chains will start to see a drop-off in year-on-year sales growth rates following the anniversary of the first national lockdown next month.

He said: 'Sales will be measured against last year's record spending and comparisons will be tough against the heights of 2020.

'Demand for groceries is also likely to subside as the hospitality sector reopens.'

Britons have spent £15.2 billion more on groceries during the pandemic as lockdowns and restrictions over the past year have forced the closure of pubs, cafes and restaurants, new figures show

The market share data showed that Tesco was joined by Big Four rival Morrisons in enjoying a bumper past quarter, with its sales up 13.9% and market share increasing to 10.3% from 10.2% a year earlier.

Sainsbury's and other supermarkets had faced criticism earlier in the crisis when attention appeared to be focused on doling out dividends to shareholders from the bumper profits generated during the pandemic.

But several supermarkets agreed to hand back cash saved from business rates holidays, increased pay rates, paid bonuses and agreed to Boxing Day holidays before making the dividend payments.

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