Surging COVID-19 sales prompt UK grocers to expand

Published on
July 20, 2020

Grocery stores and delivery services in the United Kingdom are expanding after experiencing very strong food sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall food sales increased 7.3 percent on a like-for-like basis and 3.8 percent on a total basis for the past three months through June, according to British Retail Consortium-KPMG Sales Monitor.

U.K. shoppers also bought more than GBP 4 billion (USD 5.1 billion, EUR 4.4 billion) worth of seafood in the period between 12 June, 2019 and 2020, representing a rise of 4.6 percent year-on-year, according to the latest Nielsen ScanTrack data published by trade body Seafish.

Meanwhile, online grocer Ocado reported that sales jumped 27 percent in the first half of 2020 to reach GBP 1 billion (USD 1.3 billion, EUR 1.1 billion).

"The world as we know it has changed. As a result of COVID-19, we have seen years of growth in the online grocery market condensed into a matter of months, and we won't be going back,” Ocado Chief Executive Tim Steiner said, as reported by the BBC. "We are confident that accelerated growth in the online channel will continue, leading to a permanent redrawing of the landscape of the grocery industry worldwide."

Discount grocery chain Lidl also revealed plans to open a store a week until Christmas, creating 1,000 jobs, BBC reported. The new stores will be opened across England, Scotland, and Wales.

By the end of 2023, Lidl plans another 100 stores across the U.K., which will bring its total store count to 1,000.

"It is testament to the continued hard work of our colleagues that we are able to continue forging ahead with our expansion plans, despite the challenging circumstances that have been faced over the past months," Lidl GB boss Christian Härtnagel said, according to BBC.

Meanwhile, Beelivery.com, which it says is the U.K.’s largest on-demand grocery business, recently launched a 24-hour nationwide service, which aims to deliver orders within 90 minutes of customers placing them.

“Following a hugely successful first half of 2020, the firm is now experiencing massive demand from customers across the lengths and breadths of the U.K. seeking immediate deliveries, and is registering nearly 200 new drivers a day to fulfill orders any time of day or night,”  the company said, BDaily reported.

Photo courtesy of Gordon Bell/Shutterstock

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