Alcohol sales jump after 10pm curfew begins

Grocery sales accelerate once again in September as the nation gears up for new lockdown restrictions

Alcohol sales at supermarkets soared in recent weeks after the Government imposed a 10pm curfew on pubs and bars across the country, according to new data from Kantar.

Shoppers rushed to their local stores after the curfew came into force and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme ended, spending £261m more on beer, wine and spirits in September compared to the same period last year. 

It came as take-home grocery sales accelerated once again, growing 10.6pc in the four weeks to Oct 4, as the nation geared up for new lockdown restrictions. 

However, unlike the first wave of the virus, which saw frenzied buying and empty aisles, there is little evidence to suggest that consumers are stockpiling this time round.

While the week to Sept 27 was the busiest since March, supermarket trips were well below those made just prior to the first national lockdown, Kantar said. 

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail at the market research company, said: “Shoppers are moving a greater proportion of their eating and drinking back into the home.

“This is likely a response to rising Covid-19 infection rates, greater restrictions on opening hours in the hospitality sector, and the end of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.”

Supermarkets have benefited from the crisis as a fear of catching the virus, coupled with the closure of swathes of the hospitality industry for a prolonged period, forced Britons to eat in their homes. 

But the share prices of the three London-listed listed supermarkets remain below their pre-crisis peak. 

Last month, Steve Murrells, chief executive of the Co-operative Group, told The Telegraph that new lockdown restrictions would “most definitely” boost sales at its supermarket arm. 

Online grocery sales continued to rise rapidly in September, and were up by more than three-quarters year-on-year. 

Ecommerce giant Ocado increased sales by more than two-fifths over the last three months, Kantar said, buoyed by its new partnership with Marks & Spencer, which began in September.

Iceland and Lidl saw double-digit sales growth for the period, while Morrisons was the best-performing of the "Big Four" supermarkets, with sales growing 11.5pc.

Independent outlets also maintained their robust performance as shoppers stayed closer to home, with sales growing by a fifth.