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Food shopping trends: 35% decline in promotions compared to January

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Rice has seen the biggest drop in availability (5.9%) across UK supermarkets in the last week ending 3rd May 2020, compared with the previous week, making it the third most in demand product in UK supermarkets, reveals new insight from analysts at global retail insights firm Edge by Ascential.

Food shopping trends: 35% decline in promotions compared to January

Meanwhile, tinned pasta has remained the most high in demand grocery product across UK supermarkets for the second week in a row, still experiencing a drop in availability (2.7%) over the week. The second most high in demand product was frozen pastry and dough, as consumers continued to seek alternatives to fresh baking products, but although this product range still has high levels of unavailability, it did experience a jump in availability of 4.4% compared to the previous week.

In a separate analysis, Edge by Ascential also looked at the changing level of promotions since the beginning of the UK’s lockdown, which was implemented on 23 March. Analysts found that promotions in supermarkets halved on the week commencing March 24. Across the categories Edge by Ascential analysed, an average of 26% of products were on promotion in January, dropping to just 13% on March 24. Levels rose for the first time in four weeks to 15% in the week commencing April 28. However, levels of promotions are still 35% lower than the average in January overall.

Edge by Ascential analysts have also observed the following changes in the last week ending 3rd May:

• In the last week, Sainsbury’s had the greatest rise in out-of-stock product ranges with an average of 3.4%. This was led by coffee, soap, pulses and grains and baked beans, which all had double digit increases in unavailable products. • Tinned meals and tinned meat saw the greatest rise in availability, with unavailability declining by -8.6% and -7.9% respectively. This was a significant change for these categories, since at the start of last week these categories were at their highest unavailable peak since the end of March. • Meanwhile, frozen breakfast items (+5.7%) and baked beans (+4.3%) experienced some of the highest increased levels of out of stock • Morrisons had the greatest fall in out of stock products, with an average of 7.4%, with pasta, rice and noodles (+15%), as well as kitchen towels and tissues (+17%) experiencing the greatest rises in stock levels.

Edge by Ascential is continually monitoring the online stock levels of essential products at major UK supermarkets in light of the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This follows from the UK government’s instructions for UK consumers to remain at home in a ‘lockdown’ that was implemented on 23rd March in order to control and minimise the spread.

Chris Elliott, Insight Manager at Edge by Ascential, said: “Following the rising level of stockpiling in the last few months, it’s unsurprising that supermarkets have been cautious about increasing levels of promotions in a bid to control stock levels. From our recent analysis, we can see that some products still remain high in demand – such as tinned pasta – with the likes of rice and baked beans dropping in availability. However, some popular shelf stable products such as canned meats appear to have stabilised levels. Although this is promising, such fluctuation in stock level across various categories means it is highly likely to be quite some time until we see similar levels of promotions to those seen in January.”

All figures are from Edge by Ascential’s Digital Shelf, an industry-leading ecommerce analytics SaaS platform designed to provide performance, priorities and actions for optimal growth through online retailers. It measures retailers’ digital shelf for product availability, share of search, content accuracy, ratings/reviews and price/promotions.

Methodology • In this analysis Edge by Ascential looked at the percentage of products in stock or unavailable (out of stock) in Morrisons, Asda, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose on a daily and weekly basis. • All figures above are for the week ending 3rd May 2020. • The analysis looked across 47 categories of ‘staple’ items comprising of: Adult Oral Analgesics, Hot Cereal, Ready to Eat Cereal, Bleach, Cleaning, Coffee, Cold Flu Decongestants, Cough Liquids, Medicated Confectionery, Cooking Sauces, Dry Ambient Soup, Frozen Breakfast, Frozen Burgers and Meatballs, Frozen Desserts, Frozen Fish, Frozen Fruit, Frozen Meat And Poultry, Frozen Other, Frozen Pastry and Dough, Frozen Pies, Pastries and Quiches, Frozen Pizza/Garlic Bread, Frozen Potatoes, Frozen Ready Meals, Frozen Sausages, Frozen Veg, Frozen Vegetarian, Ice Cream, Health and Vitamins, Facial Tissues, Kitchen Towel, Toilet Tissue, Couscous, Dry Pasta, Noodles, Pulses and Grains, Rice, Soap, Tea, Baked Beans, Pickled Veg, Tinned and Potted Fruit, Tinned Fish, Tinned Meals, Tinned Meat, Tinned Pasta, Tinned Veg, and Wet Ambient Soup (canned soup).


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