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Busiest month on record for UK grocers as champagne and salmon boost Amazon partner Morrisons

The closure of restaurants, bars and cafes meant that a record number of consumers flocked to supermarkets for festive dishes, according to new figures for the UK

Grocery sales rose 11.4% in the 12 weeks to December 27, 2020, a period spanning both the November nationwide lockdown and Christmas, according to the latest industry figures provided by the company. Kantar search.

December was the busiest month ever for UK supermarkets, including Tesco TSCO,
-0.08%,
Sainsbury’s SBRY,
-2.28%,
Morrisons UK: MRW
and Asda, sold by Walmart WMT,
+1.95%
and is pending regulatory approval.

Consumers spent £11.7bn ($15.88bn) on groceries bought in stores in the past four weeks alone, and online sales nearly doubled to 12.6% total spending in December, compared to 7.4% in 2019.

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The boom in online grocery sales is seen around the world. In the United States, the latest figures show 60.1 million households placed an average of 2.8 orders in November, generating record revenue of $8.1 billion, according to Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey data.

In the UK, 6.5 million households still bought a roasting turkey in December, despite more low-key festive celebrations.

While the figure was similar to last year, spending on whole poultry was down 5% and some seized the opportunity to mix things up, with sales of pork roasts up 19%, fresh fish 20% and whole chickens seven%.

Britons spent £10m on cabbages, 11% more than last year, and £22m on Christmas puddings.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insights at Kantar, said: “December is always an incredibly busy time for supermarkets, but takeaway shopping is usually complemented by celebrations in restaurants, pubs and bars – with £4billion spent on food. and drinking, excluding alcohol, outside the home during the normal holiday month.

“This year, nearly all of those meals were eaten at home, and retailers have scaled up in a monumental way to meet the surge in demand.”

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The UK’s fourth largest supermarket chain, Morrisons, which supplies groceries to Amazon AMZN,
+0.21%
under a partnership agreement, was one of the first retailers to reveal festive data and provide insight into the health of the trade.

It reported on Tuesday that sales at the same number of stores as a year earlier, in the three weeks to Jan. 3, were up 9.3%.

Morrisons chief executive David Potts said shopping habits and customer behavior were different this year as COVID-19 restrictions made large gatherings of family and friends more difficult.

Champagne sales were up 64% over last year, whole salmon by 40% and “Free From” mince pies (which are gluten, wheat and dairy free) by 14%.

Online sales have been strong, with sales more than tripling in the fourth quarter to date. Potts noted that sales growth continued to accelerate on Morrisons.com and Morrisons on Amazon, the same-day delivery service newly available on Amazon.co.uk.

Separately, the Next NXT fashion channel,
-1.77%,
which is seen as an indicator for the high street (the place in the UK where citizens shop), said full price sales in the nine weeks to December 26 were down -1.1 % over last year, which was much better than its central guidance of -8%. The company, led by chief executive Simon Wolfson, nearly offset a 43% decline in in-store sales with a 36% increase in online sales.