Sainsbury’s ecommerce grocery business now almost double pre-pandemic size, but order numbers ‘normalising’ as shoppers return in-store

Image courtesy of Sainsbury’s Sainsbury’s ecommerce grocery business is now almost double its pre-pandemic size – but it says shopping patterns are getting back to normal as customers return in-store.

The supermarket, ranked Elite in RXUK Top500 research , says online grocery sales in the first quarter of its financial year were 94% ahead of the same period in 2019, and that it has successfully held onto customers that it gained during the pandemic. However, it also says that order numbers are normalising as shoppers return in-store.

The group now has 405 branches of digital-first general retailer Argos within Sainsbury’s supermarkets, after closing six Argos standalone stores during the quarter and opening five in-store. Its has opened a seventh local fulfilment centre, enabling Argos to offer fast online delivery and collection. And Sainsbury’s’ My Nectar loyalty scheme now has 9.6m digital members, used regularly by more than a million customers to get personalised prices.

First quarter sales

The retailer is today reporting figures for the first quarter of its 2022/23 financial year. This is the final quarter for which part of the comparative period, a year earlier, was during a UK Covid-19 lockdown. Lockdowns meant non-essential stores were closed and that gave a temporary boost to retailers, such as Sainsbury’s and those branches of its Argos general merchandise business that were within supermarkets, that could stay open and trade as normal. A year on, however, the supermarket is now reporting sales that are lower than last year – when the first five weeks was during lockdown – but ahead of pre-pandemic 2019.

The supermarket today reports that first quarter retail sales, excluding fuel, were 4.5% lower than a year earlier – but 5.4% ahead of the same time three years ago, in pre-pandemic 2019. Like-for-like sales, that strip out the effect of […]

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