Could the second lockdown bring more panic buying?

30 October 2020, 07:52 AM
  • Should we all be preparing for a second wave of panic purchases and stockpiling of food? Ellen Jenne investigates
Could the second lockdown bring more panic buying?

The Great British Bake Off is in its eleventh season and seeing it on our screens has given the public a semblance of the normality they’re used to. Every year the programme inspires baking novices and fanatics to load flour, sugar, and eggs into their shopping trollies.

The show surpassed previous ratings, with television and catch-up views totalling to over 10.8 million – breaking records for Channel 4.

As Covid-19 impacted purchase decisions, with almost every supermarket shelf in the country depleting – will the public turn to baking as their choice of comfort in the second lockdown? If this happens, will producers be prepared for that possibility, or will empty shelf once again be a familiar sight?

And will this mean that supermarkets will run out of those ingredients, which many saw as store-cupboard staples to luxuries that many won’t be able to find?

The online shopping trend

The Office of National Statistics reported that overall retail sales volumes increased by 1.5% in comparison to that in August, meaning that it is the fifth consecutive month of growth. Food sales in September were 3.7% higher than that during February this year pre-Covid lockdown.

Kantar released the latest grocery market share figures showing that take-home grocery sales rose by 9.4% in the 12 weeks until 4 th October 2020, with short terms sales having increased by 10.6% over the four weeks up to 4th October.

The ONS’s data show that online foodservice orders are still being the more popular method shopping compared with that of face-to-face, with 10.4% of food sales being made online in September and only 5.4% in February.

Whether the public were baking to cure their boredom or out of a necessity to produce fresh baked goods they could not get in supermarkets during the pandemic lockdown, there was an unmistakable need for staple baking ingredients.

And with the Christmas holidays coming around faster than the public anticipate, a time full of baking favourites such as mince pies and Christmas puddings, the feelings of comfort food and nostalgia are something that people will turn to.

Mintel provided insight into how butter brands can prepare for a potential surge in baking ingredient purchasing. They say that bringing and reinforcing the idea of nostalgia to the marketing and advertising forefront, consumers can “look to their memories as refuge” should they find themselves having to stay at home once again.

How a second lockdown could impact small food retailers

During the second lockdown, there is potential that larger chains could suffer the same experience they did in the spring, where it took many weeks to see flour and sugar line their shelves again. However, this could present an opportunity for small businesses and independent retailers as people turn to sourcing and shopping local produce that delivered where the large chains could not.

In May during the peak of the pandemic lockdown, The Guardian reported that local corner shops and independent grocers saw a 63% rise in sales. Independent retailers may have the opportunity to be pillars of community when tighter lockdown restrictions come into place.

In Ireland and Wales, restrictions on essential items have already come into place. Kantar reported that take-home grocery sales slowed in Ireland to 11.9% year on year during the 12 weeks leading up to 4th October 2020 – but that there was €100 million more spent on groceries in the four weeks leading up to October 4th . This could be a potential indication of people’s awareness about where they spend their money, as well as a possibility of what other locations can expect.

Mark Drakeford announced that supermarkets in Wales will only allowed to sell “essential goods,” meaning many independent businesses could suffer.

The public will need to be conscious about purchasing, and what they can do to be productive with their time during a fresh lockdown.

Smaller and independent business can make the most of this situation by becoming community-centric; making consumers aware of local produce that can sometimes be ignored, and that they too can be relied in the next wave of the pandemic.

For the latest information on what the second lockdown means for fine food retailers, click here.

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