Shopping getting back to normal, say Sainsbury’s and Ocadoon July 6, 2021 at 8:34 am

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The supermarket and online grocer Ocado say there are signs of pre-Covid shopping habits returning.

Sainsbury's store

image copyrightReuters

Shoppers are starting to return to pre-pandemic habits when it comes to buying food, according to two leading grocers.

Sainsbury’s says demand for online sales has fallen from peak levels as people return to shopping in stores.

Meanwhile online grocer Ocado says average order sizes have been falling as people start to eat out more often.

However, both say online sales are way above pre-pandemic levels. Sainsbury’s says 18% of its sales are online, compared with 8% in 2019-20.

Sainsbury’s – the UK’s second largest supermarket chain – also said online sales jumped 29% in the first quarter of its financial year compared with last year, and were 142% higher than before coronavirus struck.

However, it added: “As restrictions continue to ease, customers are beginning to return to more normal shopping patterns, with online demand reducing gradually from peak levels and transaction numbers increasing in stores.”

Trading overall at Sainsbury’s was stronger than expected in the 16 weeks to 26 June. with sales up by 1.6% from a year earlier.

The retailer said there were a number of areas of concern, however, including potential price pressures from rising commodity prices and freight costs.

Chief executive Simon Roberts also said the business was facing challenges from a shortage of HGV drivers and there had been an increase in staff absence because of Covid.

On mask wearing after government restrictions lift on 19 July, Mr Roberts said that would be down to individual choice.

Ocado said its retail revenues – which covers its joint venture with Marks and Spencer – had grown 19.8% to £1.2bn in the six months to 30 May.

However, it added: “With the easing of social distancing restrictions meaning fewer meals consumed at home, basket sizes in the second quarter have begun to move toward pre-Covid-19 levels, exiting the period 10% lower than the average for the half.”

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