UK sees €2.3b leap in supermarket sales

Rocketing visits to UK supermarkets drove an almost £2 bn (€2.3 bn) leap in sales in the four weeks to 21 March, according to market research company Nielsen.

As Britons stocked up on groceries ahead of the coronavirus lock down which came in on 23 March in the UK, they made over 79 million extra food shopping trips, Nielsen said.

This represented an additional £1.9 bn (€2.14 bn) of grocery spend and a 20.5% jump in sales, year on year.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retail and business insight said: ‘With households making almost three extra shopping trips in the last four weeks, this small change in individual shopping behavior has led to a seismic shift in overall shopping patterns.

‘As well as increased store visits, consumers opted to shop online - many for the first time.’

He pointed out that, unlike stores, there is a finite capacity for online grocery shopping, due to warehouse capacity and available delivery slots: ‘This will have limited the growth of online sales.’

The week ending 21 March was also when the UK government announced the closure of all pubs, cafes and restaurants producing a 67% surge in alcohol sales.

Nielsen said Sainsbury’s sales were up 22.4%; Tesco’s climbed 20.1%; Morrisons’ 19.3%; and Asda’s 17.2%.

UK investor Supermarket Income REIT said on 26 March that it was maintaining its dividend payment as it had received 100% of rents due (in advance) for Q2 2020 and said all its supermarkets were trading as normal.

This is in stark contrast to other European REITS with large retail portfolios which have been slashing dividends and rowing back on 2020 guidance as many non-food retailers and food and beverage tenants with-hold rent.