Customer Behaviour

Supermarket chain Morrisons has said it saw a shift in shoppers’ behaviour in the run-up to Christmas as a result of Covid-19 restrictions. It said that customers started shopping early to secure their festive treats, with traditional Christmas goods in strong demand.

Champagne sales jumped 64% over the key Christmas trading period, while sales of whole salmon increased by 40%. Morrisons also said it would offer its car parks to host vaccination centres.

The supermarket’s chief executive, David Potts, saidthree of its supermarket car parks would be hosting coronavirus vaccinations from Monday, and it would offer another 47 locations to help with the vaccine rollout.

Overall sales at Morrisons rose by 9.3% in the three weeks to 3 January, compared with the same period last year. “The pandemic has had a severe effect on people and communities around Britain for nine months now but it has been especially hard at Christmas time,” Mr Potts said.

“I’m very pleased with the way the Morrisons team has helped our customers across the nation enjoy their Christmas in the best way they could.” The supermarket also suggested that festive sales had been driven by the fact that rules around larger family gatherings changed in England, meaning customers had to buy for last-minute smaller festivities.

In the nine weeks to 3 January, like-for-like sales, stripping out the effect of new shops opening and fuel sales, were up 8.5% and in the six months to the same date they rose 8.1% compared with a year ago, boosted by strong online sales and that of its wholesale business.

Morrisons said it had also benefitted from out-of-home eating and drinking being restricted by strict Covid-19 regulations. Supermarkets were classified as essential retailers in England’s second national lockdown between 5 November and 2 December, while restaurants and cafes could only operate takeaway services.

According to new figures from market research firm Kantar, British people forked out £11.7bn in supermarkets throughout December in the sector’s busiest month on record.

Supermarket trading was boosted by the £4bn that would normally have been spent on food and drink outside the home over the Christmas season, it said.

“While celebrations may have been more low key, there were also signs of consumers keeping merry and indulging after a tough year”, said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

Cheese sales, for example, increased by 17% and chilled desserts by 15%. Meanwhile, alcohol sales rose by £310m, with options to drink in pubs, bars and restaurants limited. The firm also found that online grocery sales accounted for 12.6% of total spend in December, compared with 7.4% in 2019.

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