Grocery sales at UK supermarkets increased by over 22% year on year in the week ending 14 March, with sales of household and pet care items soaring by 65%, according to Nielsen data.


The 22%-plus increase in sales - equating to an additional £467m in purchases - compares to an 8% rise in the previous week, as stockpiling grew in response to fears over the spread of coronavirus, Nielsen said.

Ambient groceries increased by 62%, while health, beauty, toiletries and babycare items rose by 46%.

There was also a significant increase in sales of frozen food (33%), and for the first time during the coronavirus outbreak sales of beer, wine and spirits significantly grew (11%) as well as impulse snacking items (18%). 

In terms of individual product categories, sales of children’s medicine by 228% year on year, while the biggest weekly sales growth was in UHT milk which increased by 181%. 

Toilet roll sales soared by 140%; pasta sales by 168%; bath and shower items by 152%, and household cleaners by 141%.

The data was collated before the shutdown of pubs and restaurants last Friday (20 March), which has resulted in soaring alcohol sales, independent retailers have told C-Store.

Over the past week, South Wales Nisa group Filco has seen a 200% rise in sales, with shelves stripped bare of alcohol over the weekend following pub closures, while Thornton’s Budgens in North London has seen a 97% year-on-year increase in sales.

Nielsen head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins said: “The week ending 14 March was the first week we witnessed retailers come under significant pressure to serve consumers, as supply chains were stretched in order to keep up with the unprecedented demand from shoppers.

“The announcement on 20 March that retailers are now allowed to collaborate on supply chain planning, as well as share distribution and logistics, is likely to be a welcome development, as manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers work together to reduce the impact of stockpiling.”