Supermarkets miss out on £155m as Eat Out To Help Out tempts consumers

Shoppers spent £155m less in supermarkets last month as the Eat Out To Help Out scheme tempted consumers back to restaurants and pubs, according to industry data.

The figures from Kantar revealed that strong growth in the grocery sector, spurred by coronavirus restrictions, slowed in August.

Spending in stores in the four weeks to 6 September dropped compared with the previous period partly due to reduced alcohol sales as people went back to bars.

Government figures earlier this month showed more than 100 million meals were claimed for under the Eat Out To Help Out scheme which ran during August.

Wine sales were down 5% and beer sales by 10% over the roughly equivalent period, according to Kantar.

The figures overall covered the period for the 12 weeks to 6 September, which saw supermarket sales climb 10.8% compared with last year, but that slowed to 8% in the latter four weeks.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “Grocery growth tailed off in August as the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme got under way and people were encouraged to return to offices and resume normal routines.”

Among trends reported in the last four weeks by the survey was growth in sales of personal grooming sales.

Hair styling products were up 17% and hair removal treatments up 11% on the previous month, with deodorant demand up 3%.

Online supermarket sales also posted impressive growth – up 77% on the same period last year, though that was a slowdown on earlier during the pandemic.

Ocado, which launched its partnership with Marks & Spencer on 1 September, was the fastest-growing retailer for the overall 12-week period, with sales up 41.2% year-on-year.

That chimed with a trading update published earlier by the online grocer, showing bumper revenue growth for the third quarter to the end of August.

Ocado also said in its stock market statement that its customers were choosing more M&S goods than those from Waitrose – its previous delivery partner – in their shopping baskets.

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That reflected “positive customer reaction to the addition of M&S to the range”, the group said.

But it acknowledged that some shoppers had been left unable to make orders as it struggled to meet demand.

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