Majority not stockpiling but buying ‘a little extra, a little bit more often’

Extra demand in supermarkets is being driven by people buying a few extra items and making more trips, rather than shoppers grabbing large amounts of the same product in one go, data suggests.

Sales of toilet tissue rose by 60% year-on-year for the week ending March 8 2020, while dry pasta sales were up 55% and baked beans by 48%, according to Kantar.

But the company said evidence suggests that shortages are not being caused by "stockpiling", but by people picking up a few extra items more often.

19 PHOTOS
Supermarket shoppers form epic queues
See Gallery
Supermarket shoppers form epic queues
In Pictures: Coronavirus contrast of empty motorways and supermarket queues
People form a long queue snaking a long way round the parking lot, as they wait to enter a wholesaler supermarket in Coventry, England, early Saturday March 21, 2020. The government has ordered the closure of public gathering places like restaurants, pubs, gyms and leisure centres in an effort to control the spread of coronavirus. For some people the COVID-19 coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, but for others it causes severe illness. (Jacob King / PA via AP)
In Pictures: Coronavirus contrast of empty motorways and supermarket queues
People form a long queue snaking a long way round the parking lot, as crowds wait to enter a wholesaler supermarket in Coventry, England, early Saturday March 21, 2020. The government has ordered the closure of public gathering places like restaurants, pubs, gyms and leisure centres in an effort to control the spread of coronavirus. For some people the COVID-19 coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, but for others it causes severe illness. (Jacob King / PA via AP)
In Pictures: Coronavirus contrast of empty motorways and supermarket queues
In Pictures: Coronavirus contrast of empty motorways and supermarket queues
People wait outside a Tesco Express store at 10.30am on Saturday morning as some supermarkets are restricting opening hours in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Photo credit should read: Katie Collins/EMPICS
People queue outside of a Costco store in Watford, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Britain, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People queue outside of a Waitrose supermarket in St Albans, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Britain, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Matthew Childs
People queue to shop at Sainsbury's supermarket in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, where the store had announced that the first hour of opening would be for elderly and vulnerable customers.
Early shoppers queue and wait in line for the opening of a supermarket in Rugby, England, Thursday, March 19, 2020. According to the World Health Organization, most people recover in about two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the illness. Some supermarkets are limiting the number of similar items shopper can buy to try and halt hoarding and panic buying, when the supermarket groups and government say there is no shortages in the supply chain. (AP Photo/Martin Cleaver)
Customers wait in a long queue to enter a Costco members wholesale outlet in Farnborough, west of London, on March 19, 2020. - Britain's supermarkets stepped up efforts to safeguard supplies, especially for vulnerable and elderly customers, as the sector battles stockpiling caused by coronavirus panic. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Customers wait in a long queue to enter a Costco members wholesale outlet in Farnborough, west of London, on March 19, 2020. - Britain's supermarkets stepped up efforts to safeguard supplies, especially for vulnerable and elderly customers, as the sector battles stockpiling caused by coronavirus panic. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
PLYMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 19: Shoppers queue outside a Sainsbury's supermarket prior to opening in Plymouth on March 19, 2020 in Plymouth, United Kingdom. The store allowed only the elderly and vulnerable into the store for the first hour. After spates of "panic buying" cleared supermarket shelves of items like toilet paper and cleaning products, stores across the UK have introduced limits on purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have also created special time slots for the elderly and other shoppers vulnerable to the new coronavirus. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PLYMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 19: Shoppers queue outside a Sainsbury's supermarket prior to opening in Plymouth on March 19, 2020 in Plymouth, United Kingdom. The store allowed only the elderly and vulnerable into the store for the first hour. After spates of "panic buying" cleared supermarket shelves of items like toilet paper and cleaning products, stores across the UK have introduced limits on purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have also created special time slots for the elderly and other shoppers vulnerable to the new coronavirus. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
NORTHWICH, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 19: Senior citizens queue to shop at Sainsbury's Supermarket on March 19, 2020 in Northwich, United Kingdom. A queue of approximately 600 old age pensioners formed before the market opened at 7am as the shop opened specially for the elderly. After spates of "panic buying" cleared supermarket shelves of items like toilet paper and cleaning products, stores across the UK have introduced limits on purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have also created special time slots for the elderly and other shoppers vulnerable to the new coronavirus. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People queue outside of a Costco store in Watford, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Britain, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs
People queue outside of a Costco store in Watford, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Britain, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs
People queue outside of a Costco store in Watford, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Britain, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Analysing the shopping habits of more than 100,000 UK consumers, Kantar found that a minority of people are engaging in what might traditionally be thought of as stockpiling.

For example, 6% of liquid soap buyers have taken home extraordinary quantities, and only 3% of dry pasta shoppers.

The average spend per supermarket trip rose by 16% in the week ending March 17 to £22.13 compared to the same week a month ago.

As consumers reallocated spend to groceries, supermarkets took 51% of all retail sales – an increase of seven percentage points on mid-February, Kantar said.

Customers are also choosing to shop more often, exacerbating the impact of slightly larger baskets.

An additional 15 million supermarket visits were made in the week ending March 17, compared to the week ending February 17.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: "Most of us have seen images circulating online of people bulk-buying products like toilet rolls and pasta, but our data gives us a different, if counter-intuitive, diagnosis of what's happening.

"Ultimately we need to look at the empirical evidence and it tells us that temporary shortages are being caused by people adding just a few extra items and shopping more often – behaviour that consumers wouldn't necessarily think of as stockpiling.

"People will also be eating in more as a result of social distancing and increased working from home.

"Consumers spend more than £4 billion each month on food and drink out of the home, a significant proportion of which will now be channelled through the supermarkets.

"It's not just how much people are buying but what. We're seeing customers shop beyond their normal, regular product choice, putting pressure on supplies of items that aren't usually bought as often.

"Purchasing typically made over a couple of weeks or longer is being concentrated into a few days.

"Retailers have adapted to make sure everyone can access the products they need, with many restricting the number of any one good each customer can buy.

"However, the cumulative impact of a little extra, a little bit more often means these measures may have limited effect in the short term."

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS