Coronavirus: Surge in Ocado sales pushes online juggernaut’s market share to new high

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Ocado has benefitted from a shift towards online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic. (Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

A 42% surge in sales at Ocado (OCDO.L) pushed the online supermarket’s market share to its highest-ever level over the past 12 weeks, according to new figures from research firm Kantar.

The delivery juggernaut, which has benefitted from a shift towards online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic, now has a 1.7% share of the UK market.

Online shopping sales have increased by 91% over the past month, Kantar said. Traditional take-home grocery sales, meanwhile, climbed by 12.7% in the 12 weeks to 14 June.

The research firm said that the sector showed signs of a gradual “return to normality,” noting that 19 million more supermarket trips were made in the most recent four weeks compared with May. 

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But only 54% of people say they feel safe when visiting a supermarket or a convenience store, according to Kantar research. The firm said that hygiene considerations were impacting the buying habits of shoppers.

“Sales growth over the four weeks to 14 June accelerated to 18.9%, up from 17.2% previously, with shopping patterns still disrupted compared with more normal times,” said Fraser McKevitt, the head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

“The boost has been led by online sales, which have continued to accelerate, and convenience stores, which took £1.6bn ($2bn) through their tills during this period.”

Sales at Iceland rose by 31.4% over the 12-week period, meaning that it has now reached its previous all-time high marketshare of 2.5%.

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Sales at Tesco (TSCO.L), the country’s largest supermarket, rose 12.1%. Its market share now stands at 26.9%. Meanwhile, sales at Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) rose by 10.2%, while its market share stands at 14.9%.

Morrisons (MRW.L) grew sales by 10.5%, reaching a market share of 10.1%. German discounters Lidl and Aldi saw sales growth of 14.3% and 8%, respectively.

“Consumers are also contemplating their domestic budgets. Two-thirds of shoppers are very concerned about the economic outlook for the rest of 2020, and efforts to tighten purse strings can already be seen in a preference among furloughed workers for budget own label lines and a move away from more premium products,” said McKevitt.