Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK market update w/e 26 April

Nick Gladding
Senior Retail Analyst

Date : 26 April 2020

In this article, updated daily, we summarise the latest responses to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK:

Multiples update:

  • Tesco opens first NHS Nightingale hospital stores: Tesco has opened stores at the NHS Nightingale hospital, at London's ExCeL centre and the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Open 24 hours a day and staffed by colleagues from nearby stores, they will provide NHS workers with convenient access to food and household products
  • Priority access for key workers: NHS, emergency service and care workers are now being invited to come to the font of the checkout queue in Tesco stores
  • Safety and hygiene improvements: Tesco is now making gloves and masks available to all colleagues who want them. Sainsbury's meanwhile is installing protective screens are being installed between manned checkouts at 150 stores over the next two weeks
  • COVID-19 testing: In a trial, Tesco is making COVID-19 tests available to colleagues experiencing symptoms in one region and will look to roll it out further as resources allow
  • Sainsbury's launches volunteer shopping card:  Customers self-isolating can now buy an online gift card for someone shopping on their behalf of up to £250
  • Asda completes Scan & Go Mobile rollout: Asda has confirmed the completion of its project to roll out Scan & Go Mobile technology to all of its 581 stores.  Enabling shoppers to scan, make payment and pack their own bags has been particularly important for minimising the risk of infection as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold
  • Morrisons extends support for farmers: Morrisons will open a summer 'BBQ and Steak Bar' and a 'Seafood Bar' at stores from next Thursday, offering a wider choice of steaks joints and seafood that might previously have been destined for the restaurant trade. A 5% discount will also be offered to Morrisons 2,700 farmers when they buy their own groceries at its stores

Online update:

  • Tesco reaches almost 1m delivery slots: Tesco has reported that it has boosted capacity to almost one million delivery slots, which is 400,000 more than it had six weeks ago. Over the next few weeks it expects to increase capacity further to 1.2 million deliveries per week

  • Sainsbury's updates on priority shoppers: Sainsbury's has now offered priority deliveries to 725,000 elderly and vulnerable shopping using its own customer list and government data. It has also increased the number of colleagues working on a telephone helpline five fold for customers unable to place an order online

  • ChopChop expansion being explored: Having relaunched its rapid delivery service in central London, Sainsbury's is now exploring how it can bring the service to other parts of the country 

  • Sainsbury's changes returns processes: To maintain social distancing, Sainsbury's delivery drivers will no longer accept unwanted substitutions and customers will need to call the retailer to receive a refund. This procedure is only temporary until the retailer has developed a digital process

  • Morrisons launches Ramadan essentials food box: Morrisons has added a Ramadan variant to its recently launched food box range, including products such as dates and chicken breasts. The box will be available in time for the start of Ramadan observance on Thursday. The retailer expects to increase production of all its food boxes to around 200,000 per week over the coming weeks
  • The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced Amazon will provisionally be allowed to invest in food courier service Deliveroo, considering the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Read more here

Convenience update:

  • Sainsbury's extends opening hours: Many convenience stores will now stay open to 10pm or 11pm to held reduce congestion in stores

  • Average basket spend in independent convenience stores (symbols & unaffiliated) surpasses a £10 mark during the lockdown. As a result, average weekly sales per store spike by 30% year-on-year despite depressed footfall according to The Retail Data Partnership (TRDP)

Food-to go and foodservice update:

  • Read more on the latest responses from food-to-go operators here

  • Pret brings forward plans to launch retail coffee range.   According to the Financial Times, a Pret-branded coffee range could be on supermarket shelves by the end of April, after plans to launch at the end of the year have been fast-tracked.  The change in plan demonstrates how Pret is quickly adapting its business in response to the impact of coronavirus. Last week, Pret re-opened ten London stores with new social distancing and safety measures. Pano Christou, Pret’s chief executive, said, “My sense is that Pret might be a very different operator model after this if [coronavirus] persists”.

  • More food-to-go and casual dining operators re-open sites.  Following last week’s announcement by Pret, KFC and Burger King that they were re-opening some sites for takeaway and delivery, Mexican food-to-go chain Tortilla has also said that it is working on plan to re-open around 12 of its 42 sites.  Pizza casual dining chain Pizza Pilgrims has re-opened its London Victoria restaurant for delivery only and has expanded its Frying Pan Meal Kit home delivery service nationally.  Staff are being given a budget to get taxis to and from work to avoid public transport and the company is providing personal protective equipment and hand sanitiser for staff and drivers.

For more on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • For last week's UK market update, click here
  • Latest news and reports, click here
  • How IGD is working with the food and consumer goods industry during coronavirus - visit our dedicated webpage