GB grocery retail stays solid as lockdown eased

Date : 27 April 2021

Patrick Mitchell-Fox

Senior Retail Analyst

The latest release from Kantar, tracking the performance of GB grocery retail over the 12 weeks to 18 April 2021, shows that sector growth slowed to 5.7%, as sales met the tougher comparatives of the early pandemic in 2020 and non-essential retail and the out-of-home sectors began to open from 12 April, beginning the resumption of a more normal competitive retail landscape.  However, Kantar indicates that over the most recent four weeks growth had again picked up to 6.5%.

Online growth slower as shoppers return to stores

Though online retailer, Ocado was substantially still the fastest growing operator in the period, its performance dropped back to 27.5% (from 33.9% in March). However, the ongoing significant elevation of online shopping is amply demonstrated by the fact that on a two-year basis Ocado has grew by 52.2% over the 12 weeks. Footfall data shows that the number of shopping trips has grown by 4% in April, with older shopper in particular accounting for nearly half the overall increase.

Four biggest retailers all running ahead of the market

Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons have all continued to grow faster than the market average, with Asda (+8.0%) and Morrisons (+7.2%) seeing the strongest performances. As a result the combined market share of the four retailers grew to 67.1% versus 66.4% year ago.

For insight on the latest trading statements and corporate results of the UK's leading retailers see:

Discount performance rebounds after low point in March

After significantly under-performing the market in the last reported 12 weeks (to 21 March), Aldi and Lidl returned to being ahead of the average on 6.6% and 6.1% respectively.  While this remains well behind the very high levels of pre-pandemic growth achieved back in 2019 and early 2020, the two discounters resumed gaining market share, which in combination returned to 14.0% from 13.6% in March.

See how Aldi is looking to maintain momentum is its new store openings:

Co-op performance drops negative

Despite growth experienced across nearly all major competitors in the market, the Co-op performance stands out as a significant negative.  With sales of -3.1% it seems this may owe something to the tougher comparatives now being met in the convenience channel, where the strongest rates of growth in 2020 arrived only after the March lockdown was established and shoppers moved decisively to shop more locally thereafter.

Detailed results

Retailer 12 weeks to 19 April 2020 12 weeks to 18 April 2021 Sales change YOY Sales change vs 2 years ago
Tesco 26.8% 27.0% 6.4% 14.0%
Sainsbury's 15.3% 15.3% 6.0% 14.9%
Asda 14.4% 14.8% 8.0% 11.8%
Morrisons 9.9% 10.0% 7.2% 11.8%
Aldi 7.9% 8.0% 6.6% 15.9%
Co-op 6.7% 6.2% -3.1% 16.2%
Lidl 6.0% 6.0% 6.1% 21.8%
Waitrose 5.0% 5.0% 5.0% 14.8%
Iceland 2.3% 2.3% 6.8% 26.3%
Ocado 1.5% 1.8% 27.5% 52.2%
Other Multiples 2.0% 1.9% -1.1% 17.8%
Symbols & Independents 2.2% 1.8% -13.3% 21.8%

Source: Kantar

How will the reopening of foodservice impact the food retail sector going forward?  See our latest forecasts and scenarios in: