The mainstream media is reporting, just as with the virus, that grocery shopping likely to see a second peak with wary shoppers reluctant to be caught out a second time without household essentials. What can we learn from the last peak?

September 28, 2020
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Are we facing a second wave of panic buying?

The mainstream media is reporting, just as with the virus, that grocery shopping likely to see a second peak with wary shoppers reluctant to be caught out a second time without household essentials. In March the panic buying began when worried shoppers bought large quantities of toilet rolls to ensure they didn’t run out. Despite urges from retailers and manufacturers that there was no national shortage, some people piled huge packs into their trolleys, leaving supermarkets and wholesalers struggling to maintain stock levels. Perhaps the fact many of these people must still be using their initial stockpile may slow the rush this time around! Sales of the Andrex Classic White shot up from an average sales value of £9.50 in February to a shocking peak of £51.79 average sale value in March. We have yet to see the effects of a second peak.

When lockdown was announced on 6th March, buyers went a step further – tinned goods like tuna and baked beans, tinned tomatoes and corned beef sold out and dry items like rice and pasta had to be rationed by supermarkets to prevent stocks from running so low that vulnerable shoppers without any surplus income could get enough to get by. In convenience stores, sales of Euroshopper baked beans shot up from a consistent average sales per week of £2 to £10 average value per store in week 12 in March. We have yet to see the effects of a second peak.

 

The fast change in UK shopping habits combined with an increase in home baking drove a further shortage on the shelves for flour. We cleared the shelves of flour to make dense, damp loaves of home-made sour dough and more banana bread than we could eat. Convenience stores found innovative solutions to help us get through with collaborations with local bakeries and farm stores. Sales of plain flour in mid-March 2020 were up by 829%.

Convenience stores saw a huge rise in sales over the lockdown period, with average sales reaching a peak of £10.08 on average at the end of March a huge increase from the average of £6.60 the previous year. Clearly customers found their local store to be a lifeline when the supermarkets ran out of delivery slots and introduced queues to maintain social distancing.

Supermarkets are currently adding extra delivery slots in order to cope with increased demand from those shopping from home. Tesco have made available a reported 1.5m delivery slots, up from 600,000 and Asda have set up a further 250,000 slots up from 450,000 to 700,000. Convenience stores have also looked for ways to serve their customers while locked down and this has led to innovative solutions like Basket whose online platform allows shoppers to order for click and collect and home delivery from their local store.

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