Sales of hand sanitiser more than triple as coronavirus fears grip shoppers

Sales of hand sanitiser in supermarkets more than tripled last month as worried customers flocked to protect themselves from coronavirus.

Sales soared by 255% during February, according to new data from Kantar Worldpanel.

Meanwhile, liquid soap sales increased 7% and household cleaning products rose 10%.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “Given the media focus around the outbreak of Covid-19 in February, it’s unsurprising to see shoppers prudently protecting themselves from illness.”

However, it was just part of an overall upward trend, with supermarket sales increasing by 0.7% in the 12 weeks to February 23 – the fastest increase since November last year.

However, it was worse news for the bigger players, with Sainsbury’s the only one of the large grocers to show a jump in year-on-year sales.

Spending there increased by 0.3%, its first reported growth since October 2019, according to Kantar.

Mr McKevitt said: “Sainsbury’s has performed well this period despite a challenging market, growing sales in its Sainsbury’s Local convenience stores as well as online.

“It’s worth noting, however, that continued pressure from the discount retailers meant the retailer still lost market share this month.

Tesco’s sales dipped 0.8%, while Asda was down 1.2%, the survey said.

According to the data, Lidl was the place to go for amorous couples, with its Valentine’s Day-linked ranges increasing sales by 17%.

It helped make the discount retailer the fastest growing grocer in Britain for the first time since November 2017 with overall sales rising 11.4%.

A total of 45% of customers celebrated Valentine’s Day, with almost a third of those giving chocolate, 22% flowers, and 12% some form of alcohol.

Aldi grew by 5.7%, with its share of the market now at 7.9%. Ocado continued double-digit growth at 10.8%, and Iceland’s sales rose 1.7%.