Exploring the changes in shopper behaviour throughout 2021 – mainly in relation to the changing situation of the COVID pandemic, and the effect this had customers’ purchases.

We saw changes in customers starting to value convenience more, alongside changes in health trends of shoppers, with customers’ baskets being less healthy, and increases in people purchasing medication and gifts.


In 2021, Health & Wellbeing and Gifting categories grew

The categories with the biggest growth compared to 2020 were Health & Wellbeing, and Gifting.

The Health & Wellbeing category contains products such as paracetamol and cold & flu medication. The rise in sales in this category is to be expected given that 2021 had fewer social restrictions than 2020. As a result, more people caught COVID as well as other illnesses year on year.

Items for events sold especially well, particularly with more thank you cards and Christmas cards being sold in comparison to 2020. Again, this is likely due to fewer social restrictions, meaning more people went to purchase gifts for gatherings.


Health & Wellbeing


Christmas Cards




Customers popped into convenience stores more as the year progressed

In 2020, there was a large and sustained uptake in online sales towards the start of the year. Conversely, throughout 2021, as online sales decreased, convenience sales tended to trend upwards.

It’s likely this was due to the changing situation around COVID. As cases went down and lockdowns were lifted, customers started to value convenience more over doing larger-basket shops as they were out and about. Looking forward, we can expect this to continue happening throughout 2022 given the current removal of restrictions on social contact.

Towards December this trend stopped due to the Omicron variant, with an increase in online sales and decrease in convenience sales at the end of the year. However, seasonality could affect this, as we tend to see customers doing larger-basket shops towards the end of the year with Christmas and colder weather setting in.

Source: Total Nectar Convenience and Online Sales 01/01/2021-31/12/2021


In 2021, on average, customers’ baskets were less healthy than in 2020

Average Health Score of Customer Baskets in 2021 vs. 2020 from January – December

Every year, we expect to see customers making healthier choices in January and less healthy choices nearing the end of the year around Christmas. From the graph, we can see that the trend for both years is near-identical in January and February. However, in March, when the impact of the pandemic increased, people started to make healthier purchases.

It’s likely that the pandemic shone a spotlight on health, with more people becoming conscious of their eating habits, leading to customers purchasing more in healthier categories. In 2021 we saw a reduction in this being at the forefront of customers’ minds as the impact of the pandemic decreased. We can expect the trend of customers purchasing less healthy foods to continue throughout 2022 given the lessened impact of the pandemic.



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