UK grocery sales growth accelerates as Eat Out scheme ends

LONDON (Reuters) – British grocery sales growth accelerated in September, reflecting the end of the government’s “Eat out to Help out” scheme and its call for people to return to working from home to stem a second wave of COVID-19, industry data showed on Tuesday.

Market researcher Nielsen said grocery sales growth was 8.3% year-on-year in the four weeks to to Oct. 3, having increased 5.3% in the previous four week period.

It said that while it saw big jumps in sales of disinfectants (up 92%), toilet tissue (up 34%) and household cleaning accessories (up 24%), the levels were well below those seen during the peak of the pandemic, and do not suggest the return of panic buying.

However, last month market leader Tesco TSCO.L and No. 4 player Morrisons MRW.L both reintroduced purchase limits on some products.

Nielsen said year-on-year growth of online sales was 91% as the major supermarkets continued to add delivery capacity.

Over the 12 week period to Oct. 3, Morrisons was the best performer of Britain’s so called “big four” grocers, with sales up 8.7%.

Market leader Tesco TSCO.L saw growth of 6.5%, ahead of Sainsbury’s SBRY.L on 5.1% and Asda on 3.4%.

Earlier this month the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity group TDR Capital agreed to buy Asda from Walmart WMT.N in a deal which gave the British chain an enterprise value of $8.8 billion (6.8 billion pounds).

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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