Online grocery sales growth slows to lowest level since March 2020

Online grocery sales slowed significantly in April as renewed confidence in physical shopping boosted sectors hit hard by lockdown.

According to the most recent figures from Nielsen, growth in online grocery slowed from 92 per cent in March to 25 per cent, despite total till sales remaining steady at 4.6 per cent.

This brought an abrupt end to the runaway growth online grocery has seen over the past 12 months, remaining at over 70 per cent every month since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Its sudden slowdown was driven by the easing of lockdown restrictions and new confidence in physical shopping brought on by the roll out of the vaccine.

In the four weeks to April 24, visits to bricks and mortar stores rose three per cent, marking the first increase in physical traffic for a year and rising significantly on the 19 per cent decline seen a month earlier.

Increased visits to the high street drove £8 billion in sales for the UK’s supermarkets during the month.

READ MORE: Sainsbury’s should be “lauded” for rapid expansion of online grocery despite £261m loss, say analysts

Despite the drop in growth, online grocery sales remained strong at £1.3 billion, representing 14.2 per cent of total grocery sales in the UK.

NielsenIQ’s head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins said this has driven growth in categories hit hard by lockdown.

“Categories such as health & beauty, deli and bakery have experienced a boost in the last four weeks as the schools have returned and consumers are given more freedom to socialise and meet outdoors in a small group.

“With rules set to relax further within the next few weeks, consumer lifestyles will begin to adapt and it’s likely that we’ll see another change in grocery spend as cafes, pubs and restaurants fully reopen. How far this is set to change exactly, remains to be seen.”

While online grocery may be slowing in the UK, separate figures from Adobe have predicted that online sales will continue their staggering growth this year, topping $4.2 trillion.

Adobe’s vice president of commerce Jason Woosley said: “The changes we’re seeing are things that are going to carry forward for generations. There’s just too much momentum and durability.”

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