Asda adds thousands more delivery slots as sales jump

Asda received a boost in sales as shoppers went into full panic-buying mode ahead of March’s lockdown but the supermarket chain has cautioned over the immediate outlook.

Since the lockdown and Covid-19 emergency, Asda has ramped up its online delivery operations from 450,000 weekly slots to more than 725,000. Picture: Asda
Since the lockdown and Covid-19 emergency, Asda has ramped up its online delivery operations from 450,000 weekly slots to more than 725,000. Picture: Asda

Releasing its latest results, covering the three months to the end of March, the group said sales rose 3.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared to the same period a year earlier, excluding fuel.

But bosses stressed that shoppers remained cautious, with the chain’s latest income tracker finding household incomes dipped 0.6 per cent in March, marking the first drop since 2017. Nine out of ten customers also said they were worried about a depression in the economy.

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Since the lockdown and Covid-19 emergency, Asda has ramped up its online delivery operations from 450,000 weekly slots to more than 725,000.

Despite a boost in food sales, with restaurants and cafes shut, bosses did point out there had been a fall in non-food sales such as clothes and homeware.

The US-owned firm said: “Asda also noted a significant decline in demand for non-essential items, such as fashion, fuel and general merchandise and was required to close 33 of its Living Stores in March in response to government guidance on non-essential retail.”

The group saw its smaller stores, which are more centrally located, perform strongly as customers preferred to shop locally and avoid driving to out-of-town locations during the early weeks of lockdown.

Chief executive Roger Burnley said: “It has become increasingly clear that Covid-19 is set to be part of our lives for months to come and we know that customers have moved on from an initial worry about the virus, to more longer-term concerns about the implications of lockdown on their family, wellbeing and finances.

“And, as more people return to work, they are juggling the demands of cooking more and having less time to shop for groceries.

“Whilst safety is still a major focus for customers, three quarters tell us they are also increasingly concerned about the price of groceries and are looking for value.”

He added that the company is also investing in longer-term measures, including “virtual queuing” at its Middleton store near its Leeds head office, where customers can book a time to visit a store. Directional signage, barriers, perspex screens and access restrictions have all been rolled out.

Brett Biggs, finance chief of US owner Walmart, said: “As March and April progressed, we saw economic pressure, channel shift and mix shifts in most of our markets, with significant April sales declines at Flipkart, Africa and the UK.”

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