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Tesco adds nearly £1bn to online grocery sales during ‘unprecedented’ autumn and Christmas digital demand

Image courtesy of Tesco
Shoppers can now order their groceries for delivery within an hour, using Tesco's Whoosh service

Tesco delivered on “unprecedented demand” for online groceries during the Christmas period. Online sales at the UK arm of the supermarket rose by more than 80% in the 19 weeks to January 9 – equating to nearly £1bn extra sales over the period. It set new records both for home deliveries and for click and collect and nearly 100,000 people signed up for Delivery Saver, taking the total number of subscribers to more than 680,000. Offline, shoppers opted for larger and less frequent shopping trips. 

The retailer, a Leading retailer in RXUK Top500 research, today reported group sales of £19.9m in the 19 weeks to January 9 – 6.8% ahead of the same time last year. UK sales of £14.7bn were 8.4% up on last time, or 6.7% on a like-for-like basis that strips out the effect of store openings and closures. Over the core Christmas trading period alone, the six weeks to January 9, UK LFL sales were 8.1% ahead.

Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy says: “Our focus on looking after our customers, including delivering record availability, robust safety measures and great value has enable us to maintain strong momentum through the Christmas period, outperforming the market every week.

“We delivered a record Christmas across all of our formats and channels. In response to unprecedented demand for online groceries, colleagues delivered over 7m orders containing more than 400m individual items over the Christmas period. 

“We’re now supporting 786,000 vulnerable customers with priority access to online slots and, as lockdown measures continue, we’ll keep doing everything we can to ensure everyone can safely get the food and essentials they need.”

The retailer says that its UK sales performance was driven by seasonal promotions and a 14% increase in sales of the Finest range as customers upgraded their festive dining at home. General merchandise sales were 4% up on last time.

Tesco paid frontline staff a 10% Christmas bonus, while hiring nearly 35,000 temporary members of staff. It also removed a billion pieces of plastic from products sold, from plastic   from crackers to shrink wrap on multipacks. 

It says that strong relationships with suppliers and comprehensive preparations have enabled strong levels of availability over the initial Brexit transition period. 

In its Republic of Ireland market, LFL sales grew by 12.1% in the full 19-week period, and by nearly 70% online. The retailer increased capacity in the market in response, again, in response to record demand. 

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