Convenience store sales have fallen by 19% in the past month, as the successful vaccine roll out and relaxation of social restrictions have encouraged people to return to pre-pandemic shopping habits.

According to the latest figures from Kantar, both independent convenience stores and those owned by major retailers have seen a sharp dip in sales, with symbol groups and independents down 13.3% year on year.

By comparison, symbols and independents enjoyed 21.8% year-on-year growth before the pandemic began two years ago.

Meanwhile, the number of people shopping online in the past month fell for the second time in a row.

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Fraser McKevitt at Kantar explains: “The share of groceries ordered via the internet in the most recent four weeks slipped to 13.9%, down from a peak of 15.4% in February. While online is still growing strongly, at 46%, the rate is half what it was at the height of the pandemic.”

Co-op saw sales decrease annually by 3.1% over the 12 weeks covered by the research, following its particularly strong performance this time in 2020.

The figures show Asda to be the fastest growing of the big four retailers for the first time in nearly two and a half years. Its larger stores were visited less often by shoppers looking to stay local in the early days of the pandemic, but footfall has now returned strongly.

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Tesco, Morrisons, Lidl and Iceland all gained market share and increased sales, while Sainsbury’s and Waitrose reported sales boosts, with their respective market shares holding steady.

Grocery inflation currently stands at -0.3%, having fallen for the first time since December 2016. Fraser McKevitt says: “There has been a lot of talk about grocery prices this year, and shoppers will welcome the news that like-for-like take-home grocery prices are lower than in 2020.

“This is largely down to promotions, as retailers prioritised filling shelves over running deals last year. Compared with April 2020, an extra £582 million of groceries were sold on offer, most of which were straightforward price cuts.”

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