Coronavirus: 'Little evidence' of stockpiling ahead of second lockdowns

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2 min read
LLANDUDNO - SEPTEMBER 30: Near empty shelves of toilet paper stock at a supermarket on September 30, 2020 in Llandudno, United Kingdom. New local lockdown measures will come into force for people living in in Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham at 18:00 BST on Thursday. The new regulations will include no travel outside the areas where people live. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Near empty shelves of toilet paper stock at a supermarket on September 30, 2020 in Llandudno, United Kingdom. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The first national lockdown provoked panic at the tills, but new data suggests second lockdowns across England and Wales have not led to the same kind of frenzied buying of toilet roll and dried goods.

Market research firm Kantar Worldpanel said on Tuesday there was “little evidence” of stockpiling ahead of second lockdowns.

Supermarket sales across the UK grew by 9.4% in the four weeks to 1 November, Kantar said. While sales were higher than the same period a year ago, there was no noticeable spike in stockpiling goods.

Sales rose by 15% in Wales over the period, impacted by the two week “firebreak” lockdown that began on 23 October. Kantar said the spike was not down to stockpiling. Instead, the sharper spike was driven by non-essential businesses closing, which forced people to rely on supermarkets for all their meals.

“While there was some uplift in Wales, the increased spending did not provide any evidence of stockpiling, and initial figures suggest no sign of panic buying in England either,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

READ MORE: UK consumer spending and footfall slide as shops close just before Christmas

Supermarket sales rose by a record £30bn during the first lockdown as Brits filled their cupboards, freezers, and pantries with goods to last them through lockdown. The elevated buying led to shortages and several supermarkets were forced to introduce limits on purchases of items like toilet roll and pasta.

While people haven’t stocked up at the same rate this time around, Kantar said its data showed people in England did flock to toy shops in unusually high numbers.

“One thing is always front of mind at this time of year – Christmas – and it seems many people sought to get ahead with gift buying before stores closed,” said McKevitt.

“Between Monday-Wednesday last week, the three days before additional nationwide restrictions were introduced in England, toy and entertainment stores took more than double their share of pre-covid footfall, and shoppers rushed to gift shops and fashion retailers.”

Another stretch indoors has also inspired people to spend more on their homes. Kantar said sales of scented candles, pot pourri and essential oils for diffusers have risen by 29% compared with last year.

Watch: Morrison’s implements rationing in case of stockpiling