National vaccine coverage and ‘freedom day’ didn’t bring the return to normal that many hoped for. We look at the shape of shopper attitudes this August.

Sales & Categories

Euros boost growth

Shop frequency is continuing to grow and basket size continuing to decrease, but neither have yet returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. Party & Celebration categories saw sales growth, as shoppers enjoyed the Euros

Sainsbury’s customers and sales

The end of the third national lockdown has allowed shoppers to return to some of their previous habits, with a resurgence of smaller, more frequent shops. Convenience store shopping continued its recovery, with customer volumes in the last quarter up 30% vs 2020. This has resulted in overall average basket size dropping (now only 21% above pre-COVID-19) and customer volumes closing in on pre-COVID-19 levels. Customers will be making more top up shops in the coming months, diverting their spend from larger weekly shops.

Source: Nectar Sainsbury’s sales data

Category performance

Categories that had to close during the pandemic are now back in strong growth. Bakery & Food Services and Kiosk & PFS are driving overall sales growth, outperforming Total Fresh & Grocery. Takeaway Hot Food had the highest % growth in the category as a result of food counters re-opening. ‘Freedom day’ and associated relaxation rules are enabling shoppers to return to more of their pre-COVID-19 shopping habits.

Source: Nectar Sainsbury’s sales data

Total Fresh and Grocery 12 weeks to 17/07/2021 vs last year

Party & celebration categories grew as more socialising was allowed and Euros kicked off

Source: Nectar Sainsbury’s sales data

12/06/2020-12/07/2020 vs 11/06/21-11/07/21

Economic Outlook

Optimism falls

Delay of ‘freedom day’ and increase in COVID-19 cases contributed to a dip in consumers’ economic outlook

Customer economic outlook

In the second half of 2019, pessimism around the prospect of a no-deal Brexit weighed on economic views. The deal struck in early 2020 buoyed outlook, but this was reversed with the outbreak of COVID-19 in March and remained low throughout the year. Relaxation of restrictions from the third national lockdown and economic recovery had driven a rapid improvement in outlook, with more people feeling that the economic situation will get better than worse for the first time in 3 years. The delay of ‘freedom day’ from June and sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in July have dampened this outlook, leading to the first fall in optimism of 2021, down to 42% expecting an improvement, a decline of 13%.

Source: Grocery tracker, base ~2000 interviews / month

I expect the general economic situation to get better/worse in the next 6 months

“I hope to go back to normality as soon as possible but the testing process and the costs associated with it need to be simpler and less expensive!” Male 45-54

Travel Plans

Staycation Summer

Shifting travel advice and rise in COVID-19 cases has cemented plans for summer 2021 staycations

Comfort making future travel plans

July sees a slight increase in discomfort with making future bookings, driven by uncertainty around changing travel rules. Proportion of Nectar collectors comfortable travelling remains low, at only 1 in 4.

Source: Nectar360 Omnibus/Travel Tracker ~ 2,000 per month. Q. Now thinking about your future holiday plans, how comfortable do you feel as of now to make your future holiday bookings?
“Foreign travel’s totally no-go if quarantine applies here or there and airports involve long queues” Male 65-74

Summer travel plans

As we hit summer time, decisions for travel plans are being finalised with only 13% planning to leave the UK.

Source: Nectar360 Omnibus/Travel Tracker ~ 2,000 per month. Q . And thinking ahead to summer 2021, what are your current holiday plans?

Return to Office

Home Office Happy

Working from home looks set to remain beyond relaxation of restrictions, only a third of Nectar collectors are happy to return to the office

Happiness going back into the office

A fifth are claiming that they will not return to the office in future and only around a third are happy to do so. The proportion of people looking forward to getting out of the house dropped from to 55% in July (from 63% in June) – the end of COVID-19 that many had hoped for when vaccines were rolled out has not materialised.

Source: Nectar Omnibus, Q:With the last of the Coronavirus restrictions lifting this month, how do you feel about returning to the office in future?
“I am still slightly nervous about making anything other than essential travel (including commute). I worked from home initially and would prefer to at the moment. I don’t think we can stop being vigilant yet” Female 55-64

Sentiments on returning to work

In July, fewer Nectar customers are looking forward to getting out of the house or trust their office to take appropriate safety measures

Source: Nectar Omnibus: Below are a few statements about returning to the office. How much do you agree with the following statements? Proportion responding strongly agree/somewhat agree

Further Reading

This article is a taster of our full paper, if you wish to read more please click here

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