Morrisons sees sales increase from lockdown

( via– Tue, 12th May 2020) London, Uk – –

The supermarket group says its first quarter has been “highly volatile”, affected by panic buying and lockdown.

Morrisons has reported a 5.7% rise in group like-for-like sales in its latest quarter, saying that demand was boosted by the coronavirus lockdown.

Morrisons, Britain's fourth largest supermarket group after Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda, said the first quarter to 10 May had been “highly volatile”.

Sales were up during the period of coronavirus panic buying in the first half of March, before being hit by the initial lockdown and weak Easter sales.Coronavirus UK tracker: How many cases are in your area?

However, a “significant improvement” was seen in recent weeks, the group said.

Group sales jumped 10.8% over the last two weeks of the quarter, with a 9.6% contribution from retail and 1.2% growth in wholesale.

Retail sales were up 5.1% across the 14 weeks to 10 May and wholesale revenue increased 0.6%.

Frontline employees will get a 6% “thank you” annual bonus – up threefold from last year, the supermarket group said.

Looking ahead, Bradford-based Morrisons said there is little certainty but its best estimate is that 2020-21 costs relating directly to COVID-19 are likely to be broadly offset by £228m in savings through the government's business rates holiday.

Chief executive David Potts said: “We are facing into the unprecedented current challenges and are playing our full part to help feed the nation: working with determination, creativity and pace to serve customers as well as we possibly can.”

Also in the results:

  • Fuel like-for-like sales fell by around 70% after the UK went into lockdown in late March
  • The group more than doubled the number of online delivery slots through a significant increase in stores available for order picking, and is launching a click-and-collect service at nearly 280 stores by mid-June
  • Morrisons recruited 25,000 workers to boost capacity and offset staff absences during the virus pandemic

Shares in Morrisons were up by 3.2% at 11am.

By Sharon Marris