UK online sales surge by more than 100% in May

UK online sales surged by 103% in the four weeks ended 16 May, according to new data from Nielsen.

The consumer insights firm said this was a significant increase compared with the 6.6% sales growth in bricks-and-mortar stores, with online share of sales now accounting for 13% of all grocery spend in the UK in the last four weeks and totalling £1.2bn in sales.

This is up from the 7% recorded during the same time last year and the 10% share recorded just four weeks ago, and is the highest figure for UK grocery spend online to date.

Nielsen data also showed that 7.9 million UK households placed an online grocery order in the last four weeks ending 16 May, up from 4.8 million during the same period last year, with 1.1 million of these being new online shoppers in the last month.

However, the data also revealed that store visits were down by 24% in the last four weeks. Despite this, spend per visit was once again higher than at Christmas – up 45% compared with this time last year, with an average basket value of £21.60.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, said: “Following over eight weeks in lockdown, UK shoppers are more accustomed to restricted living, and have adapted their grocery shopping habits to match.

“The extreme category growth experienced at the beginning of lockdown has started to ease as consumers become more confident in product availability. Online has been a clear winner over the lockdown period, as shoppers take advantage of retailers’ increased delivery capacity.”

Watkins added: “With social distancing continuing to be a way of life for the foreseeable future, online shopping will continue and shoppers will begin to add more discretionary treats and indulgences back into the weekly shop.”