UK supermarket Tesco sales jump 8pct in lockdown

Andrew Cummings
June 28, 2020

Tesco said its customers had been making fewer trips to its supermarkets during lockdown but had been doing bigger shops when they visit, with the amount being bought rising by nearly two-thirds.

Tesco TSCO.L , Britain's biggest retailer, saw underlying United Kingdom sales rise 8.7% in its first quarter to May 30, boosted by the coronavirus lockdown, but reiterated a flat profit outlook due to the costs of the crisis.

The Booker business reported "strong" retail sales growth of 23.5% over the past quarter, but this was offset by a significant decline in its catering arm.

Tesco said it was now delivering 1.3m orders a week after doubling its online capacity and shipped 12.6m during the quarter.

Tesco sales have surged over the past three months, after rapidly expanding its online business amid increased demand for grocery deliveries in the face of coronavirus.

The majority of the costs it has incurred relate to payroll which includes the provision of twelve weeks' paid leave to 26,000 vulnerable staff, in addition to the recruitment of 47,000 temporary workers to cover absence and meet increased demand. In total, our latest estimate of incremental costs for the United Kingdom for the full year is approximately £840 million. "These costs will be partially mitigated by the United Kingdom business rates relief of £532m and a contribution from additional food sales".

Its main govt Mr Lewis said: "In just 5 weeks, we doubled our online potential to aid assist our most susceptible customers and reworked our suppliers with comprehensive social distancing measures so that all people who was able to store in retail outlet could do so securely".

Dave Lewis, Tesco's chief executive, said: "Through a very challenging period for everyone, Tesco colleagues have gone above and beyond, and I'm extremely proud of what they've achieved".

Like many of its rivals, Tesco was forced to overhaul its strategy in-store and online amid the coronavirus lockdown.

However, Tesco said the sudden increase in sales both in-store and online came at "significant" cost, which was only partly offset by increased sales volumes and relief from government programmes.

The supermarket added that while any forecast is "inherently uncertain", based on an assumption of a continued easing of lockdown restrictions in the United Kingdom it expects its retail operating profit in the current year to be at a similar level to 2019/20 on a continuing operations basis.

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