The extent to which grocery spending habits in the UK have shifted because of the impact of COVID-19 is revealed in new data from Nielsen for The Grocer’s annual Top Products survey. It shows supermarket sales of meat and alcohol soared in 2020 at the same time as sales of cosmetics and personal care products slumped.

Key findings

  • UK consumers spent an extra £2.5bn on lager beer (+£791.9m), wine (+£717.4m), spirits (+£566.8m) and meat (+£438.9m) in 2020 as restrictions limited their ability to visit pubs and restaurants. Brits are drinking at home and preparing more meals from scratch.
  • Face mask regulations and more time spent at home have hit sales of cosmetics (-£182.8m) and personal care products, such as deodorants (-£47.1m), hair styling (-£37.5m) and toothbrushes (-£28.5m).
  • Despite the focus on health this year, tobacco sales grew £971.9m (with £684.4m of that figure coming from rolling tobacco), possibly reflecting the lack of foreign travel and duty-free purchases.

Key quote

“The pandemic has shifted consumer shopping habits to the extreme … consumers turned to scratch cooking not just as a way to feed the family but also as a source of entertainment … we also saw declining sales for products consumers would normally purchase on the go, such as bottled water or confectionary” – Rachel White, retail intelligence leader at Nielsen UK & Ireland.

Sourced from Nielsen, The Grocer