Christmas goes digital

A record breaking end to 2020

Online groceries sales enjoyed huge growth over the 2020 Christmas period. Picture: Shutterstock/ Shyntartanya

THE festive period saw supermarkets smash records for online sales, according to the latest figures from data specialists Kantar and Nielsen.

For the four-weeks ending 26 December, Nielsen found that online sales through UK supermarkets had doubled against the same period in 2019. Digital sales accounted for 12.5% of UK grocery spend over the period, compared with 6.7% the previous year.

Nielsen’s research revealed 8.5 million households, just over 30% of the UK total, shopped for Christmas groceries online, representing a jump of 5.7m on the previous year.

Store visits were down 10%, however average spend was up. Including online, the average ‘per visit’ spend figure for the period was £20, an increase of £3 on 2019.

Mike Watkins, UK head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said: “2020 marks the first Christmas where online shopping played a significant role in consumers’ shopping behaviours, with 85% of the incremental sales in food and drink made online in the last four weeks ending 26th December.

“Although overall grocery growth was a little lower than in November, this takes into account the many challenges consumers faced around restrictions and cancelled Christmas plans.”

Kantar data painted a similar picture, with the firm recording a 12.6% market share for online groceries in December.

This was reflected in growth for online grocery retailer Ocado, which ended the year as the UK’s fastest growing retailer according to Kantar.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “Cementing an extraordinary year in terms of sales and capacity growth, digital orders accounted for 12.6% of grocery spend during December, compared with only 7.4% last year. 

“With sales over the past 12 weeks rising by 36.5%, online specialist Ocado finished the year as it started – the UK’s fastest growing retailer.”