British grocery sales soared 20.6% year-on-year in the four weeks to March 22, as shoppers stocked-up before the country went on coronavirus lockdown, making it the biggest month on record for grocery sales, industry data showed on Tuesday.
Market researcher Kantar said growth was driven by people shopping more frequently and buying slightly more on each trip, with the average household spending an extra 62.92 pounds ($77.36) over the four weeks, equivalent to adding five days worth of groceries.
Grocery sales were 10.8 billion pounds in the period, which ended a day before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a full lockdown of Britain.
“That’s even higher than levels seen at Christmas, the busiest time of year under normal circumstances,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.
He expects restrictions on movement and relatively full grocery cupboards will mean the incredibly high levels of shopping trips made in March will drop off over the coming weeks.
“While much-reported panic buying has been concentrated to a relatively low number of individuals so far, we anticipate that this too will subside as consumers gain confidence in the retailers’ abilities to maintain grocery supplies and keep stock on the shelves,” McKevitt added.