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British grocery sales get shot in the arm from vaccinated over-65s

    LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) - British grocery sales rose 6.5%
in the four weeks to April 18, with the rollout of COVID-19
vaccinations and partial relaxation of social restrictions
encouraging older shoppers to return to physical stores,
industry data showed on Tuesday.
    Market researcher Kantar said the four week period was the
busiest in store for grocers in more than a year, and the number
of trips made in April increased by 4% compared to March.
    "With much of the over-65 community now vaccinated, older
shoppers accounted for nearly half of the increased footfall,"
said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at
Kantar.
    In contrast, the number of people shopping online fell for
the second consecutive month. Digital orders accounted for 13.9%
of grocery spend, down from a peak of 15.4% in February.
    Kantar said the return to sales growth in the latest
four-week period also reflected what was happening in April
2020.
    After the initial rush to stock up before Britain's first
lockdown, this time last year was comparatively quiet. Shoppers
chose to buy locally and minimize their trips to stores where
possible, which is reflected in strong growth a year later.
    "While the market may fluctuate between growth and decline
in the months ahead, depending on the year-on-year comparison
being made, the fact that trip numbers are up and basket sizes
down suggests that habits are slowly returning to normal," said
McKevitt.
    Over the 12 weeks to April 18, Asda, with sales growth of
8.0%, was the fastest growing of Britain's big four grocers for
the first time in nearly two and a half years.
    Market leader Tesco's sales rose 6.4%, with
Sainsbury's up 6.0% and Morrisons up 7.2%.
    Kantar said grocery prices fell 0.3% over the 12 week
period.
    It said prices are rising fastest in markets such as chilled
fruit juices and drinks, canned colas, and chocolate, while
falling in bacon, vegetables, and toilet tissue.
    
 Market share and sales growth (%)
                  12 wks to     12 wks to     pct change
                  April 18,     April 19,     in sales
                  2021          2020          
 Tesco            27.0          26.8          6.4
 Sainsbury's      15.3          15.3          6.0
 Asda             14.8          14.4          8.0
 Morrisons        10.0          9.9           7.2
 Aldi             8.0           7.9           6.6
 Co-operative     6.2           6.7           -3.1
 Lidl             6.0           6.0           6.1
 Waitrose         5.0           5.0           5.0
 Iceland          2.3           2.3           6.8
 Ocado            1.8           1.5           27.5
 Source: Kantar

 (Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)
  
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