2020 was an unprecedented year. With the Covid-19 pandemic having a major effect on how customers behave, it’s no surprise that the festive period would also be impacted. But how did this pan out in Sainsbury’s and how did it compare to last year?

What was customers’ shopping pattern in December 2020?

The 2020 sales pattern matched last year, but at a slightly higher level compared with that of December 2019.

The peak in Nectar sales occurred on the 21st December in 2020 versus 23rd December in 2019; these were both the last Monday prior to Christmas.


Daily Sainsbury’s Nectar sales trend December 2020 vs December 2019

Slightly lower Nectar customer levels

However, Nectar customer numbers were lower than in 2019. This matches the the ongoing trend, due to Covd-19, of fewer customers, spending more.

Daily Sainsbury’s Nectar customer trend December 2020 vs December 2019

Which categories performed?

Frozen, Packaged & Speciality and Dairy drove overall growth whilst Impulse and Meal Solutions grew at a slower rate. Again, this seems to be a reflection on customers spending more time at home and cooking due to Covid-19 causing these category trends that have continued in the festive period.

Category performance YoY % – Nectar Sales, December 2019 vs December 2020

Over the month of December in Sainsbury's, we saw...


extra units of Handheld Ice Cream purchased


extra spent on table sauces


extra spent on Branded Cheddar

Between Christmas and New Year, Nectar shoppers bought...


extra fresh fish


more customers purchased fresh beef


more customers purchased frozen fish

The proportion of online sales over the Christmas period was larger than versus last year and versus total 2020

Due to Covid-19, many customers shifted to purchasing online and this seems to have continued into the festive period also. For many customers, the barriers to purchase online have been removed and customers see online as a easy way to shop.

% of Total Nectar Sales Through Online

The proportion of customers shopping online in December 2020 was over double that of December 2019

The proportion of online customers has doubled versus last year but sits lower than total 2020. This is likely due to the larger number of customers shielding in earlier stages of the pandemic meaning less customers in store and a larger proportion of online customers. Additionally, the lower proportion over December may have been impacted by the capacity of delivery during this high demand period.

% of Total Nectar Customers Through Online
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