GB market growth: one year on from the first UK Coronavirus cases

Date : 02 February 2021

Lucy Ingram

Retail Analyst

The GB market grew 12.2% in the 12 weeks to 24 January, according to latest results from Kantar. As restrictions once again increased, the online and convenience channels continued to benefit the most from changes in shopping habits.

Increased restrictions drive up spend

A combination of the festive season and the reintroduction of lockdown restrictions drove growth. With dining out no longer a possibility and homeschooling recommencing, shoppers spent more time indoors, driving up spend. Families spent on average £50 more on groceries in January 2021 than they did in 2020. This added £1bn in spend on supermarket food and drink compared to the same four-week period in 2020.

With inflation for the four weeks to 24 January falling slightly to 1.3%, from 1.4%, there is yet to be an impact from extra costs created by Brexit.

In January vegan ranges were bought by 6.6m households, a 10% increase on 2020. Subscribers looking to explore shoppers' growing interest in veganism and how retailers and brands are responding to this, can read our Veganuary UK, 2021 insight report.

Online hits records share of the market

Online shopping hit a record share in January 2021, at 14%. This was led by the oldest demographic of shoppers, with retired households' online spending up +229% compared to 2020.

Food delivery platforms such as Just Eat and Deliveroo saw success in the period, with sales accounting for 6% of all retail ecommerce on New Year's Eve.

Ocado retained its top spot as the fastest growing retailer, with sales +36.6%. It also grew market share 0.3pp to 1.7%. The online specialist announced this week it is removing its low price promise. Early in January it also announced that it was simplifying its proposition with the sale of Fetch.

In other news in the online channel, rapid delivery start-up HyperLocal launched with Sainsbury’s store. If you are looking for a wider perspective on the channel, take a look at our article on ecommerce in Europe: four developments in the region.

Convenience also records share of the market

Convenience stores, including independent corner shops and those operated by the major chains, recorded their highest four-week growth ending share of the market since September, at 12.9%.

Subscribers looking for more insight on the convenience channel should see our recently released UK convenience trends 2021 report.

Aldi continues its run as the slowest growing retailer

The discounters continued to see very different levels of growth, with Lidl’s sales +12.1% and Aldi’s +5.7%. Lidl has outperformed the market since the beginning of the pandemic. Potential reasons for this include its larger store size, higher penetration of brands, marketing strategy, introduction of Lidl Plus and Tesco’s Aldi price match. Look out for more insight on this coming soon.

Lidl recently published its FY19 results showing despite a record number of shoppers in its stores, it suffered a pre-tax loss of £25.5m. This was due to the investments it has been making in the estate.

Subscribers looking for more insight on the discount channel can access our Discount global trends 2021 insight report. 

Morrisons sees eighth month of continuous market share growth

Morrisons saw the fastest growth of the Big Four, at +14.3%. Its market share is now 10.4%, following eight continuous months of market share growth. The retailers' growth has been driven by new stores, format development, strong performance in its wholesale operations and online.

Elsewhere at the Big Four, Tesco grew in line with the market, and Sainsbury's was just below at +12%. Asda also saw improvement, with sales +9.9%, compared to +7.8% in the previous reporting period.

In other news from the Big Four;

Detailed results

Retailer 12 weeks to 26th January 2020 12 weeks to 24th January 2021 Sales growth (Y-O-Y%)
Tesco 27.3% 27.3% 12.2%
Sainsbury's 15.8% 15.7% 12.0%
Asda 14.9% 14.6% 9.9%
Morrisons 10.3% 10.4% 14.3%
Aldi 7.9% 7.4% 5.7%
Co-op 6.0% 6.0% 11.4%
Lidl 5.9% 5.9% 12.1%
Waitrose 5.0% 5.0% 11.3%
Iceland 2.3% 2.5% 21.8%
Ocado 1.4% 1.7% 36.6%
Other Multiples 1.7% 1.7% 16.5%
Symbols & Independents 1.6% 1.7% 20.9%

Source: Kantar

Looking for more insight?

Subscribers can access our latest thinking on food and drink consumption, and the shift between in-home and out-of-home spend in the following reports;

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