December 3, 2020

Food retail sector and Covid-19: new research highlights online shopping searches up 2,400%

online shopping concept: man using a laptop with supermarket website on the screen. Screen graphics are made up.

A new retail market report, providing an in-depth review of the UK’s retail industry amidst the Covid-19 pandemic landscape, reveals that food retail has been one of the most affected sectors hit, with drastic changes to the way consumers purchase their products. 

The report, from TextAnywhere, explores key findings across the sectors, including:  

– Online shopping searches have increased by over 2400% since the pandemic began; 

– The worst-affected items were hand sanitiser, pasta, and bleach;

– The average supermarket availability was 44% on 14th March, falling suddenly to 4% by the 20th March.

According to a recent ONS report, food stores currently provide the largest contribution to retail spending in the UK, with a 0.7% year-on-year contribution to the growth of the sector as of February 2020. Even prior to Covid-19, the sale of food in the UK has increasingly been moving online. 

Examining the 12 weeks leading up to the 22nd March, all of the major UK supermarkets saw significant increases in sales: Lidl’s sales rose the most during this period with a 17.6% increase, whilst Ocado and Iceland were next with 12.5% and 11.7% increases respectively. Aldi, The Co-operative, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco also saw sales increase by more than 5%.

Consumer behaviour

The search term “online delivery” saw a sudden increase in interest on Google around the 15th March, with the number of searches beginning to increase even prior to the initiation of the UK lockdown on the 23rd March.

The report uses a combination of external data with data-driven analysis, aiming to support retailers during this challenging time by giving light to the issues they face, the solutions in place and the insights that will drive future thinking.

Amy Robinson, Senior Brand Development Manager at TextAnywhere, said: “We appreciate it’s a difficult time for retailers. For those working in the sector, the threat of reduced spend, impossible footfall, stock shortages and more mean that business remains unpredictable. We hope this report can support retailers across the board by providing insight into the variety of challenges the industry is currently undergoing.”

You can read and download the full report here: