Morrisons reported a volatile lockdown trading period with sales for the last quarter up 5.7% excluding fuel.

The quarterly results marks one of the first major financial releases by a multiple for the lockdown period and hints at some of the major trends.

From 5% up like for like prior to lockdown, sales rocketed prior to lockdown before falling during the initial lockdown period. However, by late April sales recovered to 9.6% up year on year.

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Morrisons said the lockdown sales turbulence was due to initial shopper caution, customer capping and checkout closures, while the return of normal trading hours and rising customer confidence with social distancing led shoppers to return to its tills.

Despite many supermarkets claiming that the operational costs associated with greater home deliveries would damage its profits on additional sales during lockdown, Morrisons said this was not the case.

“Costs relating directly to Covid 19 are likely to be broadly offset by the in-year business rates cost saving,” said the supermarket chain.

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Scott Annan, founder of the Independent Retailer Owners Forum warned supermarkets would be using the extra funds to build a “war chest” and predicted an upcoming price battle as the major supermarkets attempt to retain their newly won customers and sales volumes.

Independent stores in many areas also faced new competition from the rollout of Amazon and Morrisons’ delivery partnership to new postcodes. It has risen from serving eight cities from 17 stores to “most major cities and many towns” from 40 of its sites. These include Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bristol, Portsmouth and the Midlands.

Its own home weekly home deliveries from morrisons.com also doubled, with the help of its partner Ocado. It added there had been a “substantial” increase in the number of its stores acting as online fulfilment hubs.

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Its click and collect trial will also be rolled out from six sites in march to nearly 280 Morrisons stores by mid-June. A new partnership with Deliveroo also gave it greater capability to compete with convenience stores for smaller shops, with 130 stores now offering deliveries in as little as 30 minutes.

Its wholesale business, which serves McColl’s and some forecourt groups also reported a sales rise to account for nearly 1% of the groups total sales by the end of Q1. This was bolstered by new Covid-19 wholesale deals to councils, care homes and charities.

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