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Supermarket sales hit by increased restaurant and pub trips in August

Sales of alcohol were down while personal grooming items were in demand as people spruced up for a trip out

WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC -

Supermarkets spending was trimmed slightly in the past month by the launch of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, while online shopping growth slowed for the second month.

Four-week grocery sales growth decelerated to 8.0%, the slowest rate since April, research from Kantar showed, as shoppers spent £155mln less in supermarkets in August, the month when the Chancellor launched his scheme to help the restaurant sector.

Supermarket alcohol sales were one notable sign of the trend of people spending less time at home, with wine sales down 5% month-on-month and beer down 10%, while sales of personal grooming products were higher, with hair styling 17% higher and hair removal treatments up 11%.

There were other signs of a slight move towards normal shopping patterns as online grocery growth continued to slow, down to 12.5% of total sales this month from a peak of 13.5%. However, with year-on-year growth of 77% it still remains massively elevated than before the pandemic.

“Diners’ confidence built throughout the month and footfall increased* during each week of the scheme, culminating in the final bank holiday Monday when dining out accounted for a two and a half times greater share of consumer spend than the pre-Covid average,” said Fraser McKevitt, Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight.

He added: “This is not just about people going out to eat in restaurants, August also brought shielding to an end for many vulnerable and at-risk people.”

Of the big four supermarkets, Wm Morrisons Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW) performed best, with sales up 12.9% over the past 12 weeks, increasing its market share up by 0.2 percentage points to 10.1%.

Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) was next, with sales growing 10.5% and its market share flat, while J Sainsbury PLC’s (LON:SBRY) growth increased 8.0%.

Asda lagged its big rivals, with sales up 6.3% and its market share falling by 0.6 percentage points. 

Grocery inflation was 2.3% for the 12-week period to 6 September.

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