British lockdowns drive acceleration in grocery sales growth

    LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - The British grocery market saw
sales growth accelerate to 12.2% in the latest 12-week period as
reintroduced lockdown restrictions to stem the spread of
COVID-19 caused people to spend more on food and drink, industry
data showed on Tuesday.
    Market researcher Kantar said the outcome for the 12 weeks
to Jan. 24 compared to year-on-year growth of 11.4% in last
month's report and reflected the curtailment of eating out of
the home as cafés, restaurants and pubs were forced to close.

    In January alone, shoppers spent 1 billion pounds ($1.4
billion) more on supermarket food and drink items compared with
the same four-week period last year, Kantar said, with the
average family spending 50 pounds more on groceries.
    "Dry January also played a role in increased spend on
no-alcohol beer, which grew by 12%. However, many sought to
indulge and keep spirits high during a tough winter month and
alcohol sales grew overall by 234 million pounds, an uplift of
29% on last year," said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and
consumer insight at Kantar.
    Online shopping hit a record 14% share of the UK grocery
market, boosted by a 229% year-on-year rise in the online
spending by retired households.
    Morrisons, Britain's No. 4 supermarket group, was the best
performer of the four major players with sales growth of 14.3%.
    Market leader Tesco, No. 2 Sainsbury's and
No. 3 Asda, an arm of Walmart, saw growth of 12.2%, 12%
and 9.9% respectively.
    Kantar said UK grocery inflation was 1.3% over the 12 weeks.
Prices are rising fastest in markets such as canned colas,
skincare and chilled fruit drinks while falling in vegetables,
fresh beef and rice/noodles.
    Shares in Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons have performed
solidly in 2021 so far - up 5.2%, 7.5% and 1.4%.
    They have been buoyed by expectations of continuing strong
trading and by the failed bid by Canada's Alimentation
Couche-Tard to acquire France's Carrefour
which has shone light on the sector's value.
     Market share and sales growth (%)
                  12 wks to     12 wks to     pct change
                  Jan. 24 2021  Jan. 26 2020  in sales
 Tesco            27.3          27.3          12.2
 Sainsbury's      15.7          15.8          12.0
 Asda             14.6          14.9          9.9
 Morrisons        10.4          10.3          14.3
 Aldi             7.4           7.9           5.7
 Co-operative     6.0           6.0           11.4
 Lidl             5.9           5.9           12.1
 Waitrose         5.0           5.0           11.3
 Iceland          2.5           2.3           21.8
 Ocado            1.7           1.4           36.6
    Source: Kantar

($1 = 0.7314 pounds)

 (Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)