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Consumers and the New Normal report | Insight & Analysis

December 2021

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Consumers and the New Normal report : December 2021

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Report Summary

Period covered: 31 January – 27 February 2021

Note: Reporting periods are either one or two months behind the current month as standard reporting practice.

  • Food sales growth rose by xx.x% in February, year-on-year, against a x.x% rise a year ago. The continued strong performance resulted in growth outperforming the three-month average of x.x%.

Lockdown restrictions supports growth

  • The closure of hospitality, schools and ongoing work from home guidelines all contributed to the significant boost within the category.
  • Analysis from Kantar suggested that an additional seven billion meals have been eaten at home since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. Stay-at-home Valentines meals also supported sales of premium ranges and chocolates.
  • Notably, in the final week of the month, sales in several ambient categories fell due to comparisons with the beginning of panic buying a year ago. Rice and grains, dry pasta, canned or packet soup, and toilet rolls all recorded double-digit declines.

Permanent shift to online

  • Online grocery sales continued to rise at an exceptional rate, according to the ONS.
  • However, the prevalence of online grocery shopping was much higher. Our research showed that almost two in five households (37%) had done some grocery shopping online in February.
  • This resonates with data from Kantar which reported that the online shopping accounts for c.65% of grocery spend each month for those consumers that shop online.
  • The pandemic has dramatically altered the growth and composition of online food sales over the last 12 months. Back in February 2020, when coronavirus case numbers stood at 13 (25 February 2020), average weekly online food sales totalled £177m with online food sales accounting for just 5.6% of overall retail spending.
  • A year on, the online penetration rate has almost doubled, with average weekly food sales just under two and a half times greater than their level before the full impact of the pandemic was felt.

Latest Developments

  • Aldi is expected to invest £22m on new and revamped stores in the Greater London area this year.
  • Morrisons extends its wholesale partnership with McColl’s, meaning the grocer will now be McColl’s sole wholesale supplier until 2027. McColl’s stores will carry a full range of Morrisons convenience products.

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Comparison of penetration rates for food before the pandemic, during periods of lockdown and mid-pandemic (periods of no lockdown)

Source: ONS, Retail Economics analysis

Latest monthly Consumers and the New Normal report

Report: February 2021 Note: Reporting periods are either one month or two months behind the current month as standard. Sales performance Food sales growth rose by 9.1% in January, year-on-year, against a 2.8% rise a year ago, improving on the... read more
Report: January 2021 Retail sales rose by 0.8% in December, year-on-year, according to Retail Economics. Total online retail sales increased by 45.8% in December, value and non-seasonally adjusted, according to ONS. Shop price inflation fell by 0.6% i... read more
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Report Contents

Consumers and the New Normal report Report
  • Executive Summary
  • Sector analysis
  • Food & Grocery – Retail Economics Index
  • Food – BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor
  • By Size of Retailer – Office for National Statistics
  • Macro Factors
  • Consumers
  • Footfall
  • Labour market
  • Earnings
  • Costs, Prices and Margins
  • Weather Watch
  • Average Temperature
  • Average sunshine hours
  • Average Rainfall

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Retail Economics publishes monthly Retail Sector Reports for the UK Food & Grocery sector giving you actionable insights for your business.

It provides in-depth analysis of the latest macroeconomic and consumer trends affecting UK supermarkets and grocers including market size estimates for: Fresh & Chilled, Ambient, Alcohol and Tobacco, Non-Alcoholic and Frozen sectors.

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