A survey looking at retail shopping habits in the UK during the coronavirus crisis revealed extra demand in supermarkets is largely being driven by people adding a few additional items to their baskets and making more trips rather than shoppers buying the same item in bulk. 

Consultancy Kantar said so-called stockpiling is only being carried out by a minority of shoppers.

Analysing the shopping habits of more than 100,000 UK consumers, Kantar found that when it comes to dry pasta, for example, only 3% of buyers had taken home “extraordinary quantities”.

“Instead, a significant number of consumers are adding a few extra products each time they visit a store,” it said. 

“The average spend per supermarket trip rose by 16% in the week ending 17 March to GBP22.13 (US$25.77) compared to the same week a month ago.”

As consumers reallocated spending to groceries, supermarkets took 51% of all retail sales, an increase of seven percentage points on mid-February.  

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By GlobalData

Customers are also choosing to shop more often, exacerbating the impact of slightly larger baskets. An additional 15 million supermarket visits were made in the week ended 17 March, compared to the week ended 17 February.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “Most of us have seen images circulating online of people bulk buying products like toilet rolls and pasta, but our data gives us a different, if counter intuitive, diagnosis of what’s happening.

“Ultimately, we need to look at the empirical evidence and it tells us that temporary shortages are being caused by people adding just a few extra items and shopping more often – behaviour that consumers wouldn’t necessarily think of as stockpiling.”