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Grocery sales by £155m in August as many chose to Eat Out to Help Out

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The success of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme meant that people bought fewer groceries to cook meals at home last month, according to new figures.

Supermarket food sales fell by £155 million in August compared with the previous month. The year-on-year growth in sales fell from 14.4 per cent in the 12 weeks to August 9 to 10.8 per cent in the 12 weeks to September 6.

Alcohol sales at supermarkets also dropped, with wine down by 5 per cent and beer falling by 10 per cent, as more people returned to pubs, bars and restaurants to make use of the government’s half-price offer on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August, rather than drinking at home during virtual pub quizzes on Zoom.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insights at Kantar, said that “resocialising” had spurred renewed demand for personal grooming items, too, with sales of hairstyling products up by 17 per cent, deodorant sales 3 per cent higher and hair removal products stronger by 11 per cent.

Online grocery sales continued to rise by 77 per cent during August, although the rate slowed for a second month in a row. Online sales account for 12.5 per cent of total grocery sales, compared with a recent peak of 13.5 per cent. “This is not just about people going to eat in restaurants. August also brought shielding to an end for many vulnerable and at-risk people,” Mr McKevitt said.

Ocado was still the fastest-growing food retailer over the past 12 weeks, increasing its sales by 41.2 per cent, while Iceland came second with a 20.8 per cent jump. The Co-op’s sales grew by 13.4 per cent over the period, but they increased by more than double this rate in the north of England, where local lockdowns have meant that people are shopping at convenience stores closer to home. Morrisons has continued to lead the “Big Four” supermarkets, expanding sales by 12.9 per cent, ahead of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda.

Kantar and Nielsen, its rival data provider, suggested that retailers were becoming more competitive, with promotional activity back to the highest level since February.

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