GB market: annualising against 2020’s record-breaking March

Date : 30 March 2021

Lucy Ingram

Retail Analyst

The GB market grew 7.4% in the 12 weeks to 21 March, according to the latest results from Kantar. This period sees the annualisation of retailers’ performance against the record-breaking sales of March 2020, when the country went into its first lockdown. Sales over the most recent four weeks were down 3% versus last year, with shoppers making 117m fewer trips to the supermarket than in March 2020.

Over 65's are using online less

Shoppers have been returning to physical stores in the last four weeks, with online’s share of the market dropping to 14.5%. This compares to the record share it reached in February 2021, at 15.4%. The results showed growing confidence amongst older shoppers in particular, with 143,000 fewer over-65s making digital orders in March. This age group increased its trips to physical retailers by 6.8%. This was more than double the national rate, showing the impact of the vaccination programme on shoppers' mindsets and behaviours.

Despite more shoppers returning to stores, Ocado retained its place as the market’s fastest growing retailer, with sales up by +33.9%. It also grew its market share to 1.9%, compared to 1.5% a year ago. The retailer's results show Q1 revenue was up 40%, for the 13 weeks to 28 February. In Q1, retail sales grew faster in comparison to the previous quarter (+35%) driven by an increase in average order size to £147. This was due to seasonal strength over the festive period in addition to larger orders as a result of further national lockdown measures in the UK. In February, Ocado also announced it has discontinued its Low Price Promise price matching tool. It removed this scheme and replaced it with ‘hundreds of low priced items’, which will be marked on its online store with a red ‘£’ icon. Average orders per week was up 2.5% YOY to 329,000.

If you're looking for more insight on the online channel, check out the latest news;

The role of convenience stores continue to change

Co-op performed well with sales +7.1% in this reporting period. In the Closer to Co-op Q&A sessions hosted by IGD in February, we heard about Co-op’s key priorities and evolving response to COVID-19. Read about this in our how Co-op is executing our five UK convenience trends article.

See more about the convenience channel in McColl’s FY 2020 results. In this article we explore what the results tell us about UK convenience retailing in 2021, going into more detail on four key areas;

  1. The performance of local c-stores remains strong, but is moderating
  2. UK c-stores now have an intensified role as ‘mini-supermarkets’
  3. More ‘local’ sites are now commercially viable for ‘grocery convenience’
  4. Online/delivery in convenience is here to stay – for now

In other news in the channel, Iceland has started to target ‘convenience’ with its new format, Swift. Swift stores promise to be a significant departure from established Iceland formats, with a different layout and feel, plus a focus on targeting food-for-now, as well as food-for-later, shopper missions. Subscribers can see pictures of the first store opening in our latest report Inside Swift, Longbenton, UK - a look at Iceland's new convenience format

Tesco continued to gain market share

Tesco once again gained market share in this period, up 0.3pp to 27.1%, compared to last year.

If you are looking for more insight on the Big Four, see our latest news;

The discounters' growth is below the market

Following months of Lidl showing significantly stronger sales than Aldi, the discounters’ performance was more aligned in this period, with Lidl’s sales +2.9% and Aldi’s +1.5%. Aldi has consistently grown below the market since April 2020, whereas Lidl grew above the market for all of 2020. The previous reporting period was the first time Lidl's growth was slower than the market since the pandemic began.

Despite the differences in performance over the last year, the discounters continue to open new stores at a rapid pace. Read more about this in our UK Discount: opportunities and challenges in London article.

Detailed results

Retailer 12 weeks to 22 March 2020 12 weeks to 21 March 2021 Sales change YOY Sales change vs 2 years ago
Tesco 26.8% 27.1% 8.5% 14.5%
Sainsbury's 15.3% 15.3% 7.3% 15.3%
Asda 15.0% 15.1% 7.6% 12.9%
Morrisons 10.0% 10.1% 8.7% 13.7%
Aldi 8.2% 7.8% 1.5% 12.7%
Co-op 6.2% 6.2% 7.1% 17.2%
Lidl 6.1% 5.8% 2.9% 21.0%
Waitrose 5.0% 4.9% 5.1% 13.0%
Iceland 2.2% 2.3% 14.3% 28.3%
Ocado 1.5% 1.9% 33.9% 50.6%
Other Multiples 1.9% 1.8% 1.7% 15.6%
Symbols & Independents 1.9% 1.8% 5.5% 22.5%

Source: Kantar

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