The UK’s convenience stores saw an increase in sales of almost a fifth in the four weeks up to June 13 2020. This has been attributed to shoppers going ‘ultra-local’ through the period of COVID-19. The lockdown and concerns around safety have had a significant impact on every element of the retail market.

Sales at convenience stores were up 17%, above the overall total for grocery stores which rose 14%. This is according to data from Nielsen.

The COVID-19 effect on grocery shopping

Online grocery sales were at 115% in comparison to the same period in 2019, maintaining a 13% share in the overall grocery market. Around 25% of shoppers are now claiming to be shopping more at their local shops than they did before the global pandemic.

The average spend across all formats for a single shopping visit was £20.32. This is £1.30 lower than the average spend for the previous four weeks.

Strong performers during lockdown

Iceland has continued its trend of outperforming the biggest grocery retailers in the UK, recording a 23% gain in its market share over the last twelve weeks. This surge in demand has been attributed to shoppers targeting more frozen foods in their shopping to keep them going through lockdown. The uptake of frozen food has increased by 32% in the last four weeks.

Another strong performer in recent weeks has been the Co-op, which has increased its share in the market by 16%. This is said to be down to shoppers sticking with local convenience stores even to make larger shopping visits.

Analysis from Nielsen

Nielsen’s UK Head of Retailer and Business Insight has stated that UK shoppers are demonstrating that they have “adapted to their new shopping routines” after three months of lockdown. Their shopping habits through the four weeks to mid-June have been similar to the previous two months – “fewer visits but bigger trolleys and bigger basket spend”.

He also speculates that although the “dramatic” increase in online grocery shopping is “significant”, he expects the current share of sales to remain for the foreseeable future. He believes that the embracing of “ultra-local stores” is “just as important” at this time.

Looking ahead

Even as pubs and restaurants begin to slowly re-open, it is expected that the average till grocery sales level will continue growing. The projected growth over the next couple of months stands at +5% to +10% and so-called ‘staycations’ could mean an even greater boost is seen.