Beers, wines and spirits (BWS) was the fastest growing online grocery category in terms for the last four weeks of lockdown, according to recent data.

Nielsen data for the four weeks ending April 18, showed BWS sales grew 78% online compared to the same period last year.

The data shows that the share of all grocery sales made online reached 10% in the same four weeks. Almost 6.8 million consumers shopped for groceries online with almost one in three being new shoppers.

The share of grocery sales made at convenience stores also reached a new high of 30% and BWS sales continued to be strong via this channel.

Gemma Cooper, senior commercial business partner, said: “The Impulse channel has been pivotal to propping up the off trade (Impulse reports +50% this week compared with the same week last year and it is up 23% since the start of Feb).

“Recent Nielsen shopper research has shown that many UK shoppers are choosing to shop local during the pandemic and this will have been a huge benefit to the impulse stores; Wine, Rum, Gin and Beer being popular choices for shoppers here.

“We can expect to see the impulse retailers continue to be pivotal to overall off trade performance as we continue to see on trade volume shift to off trade.”

Over the last four weeks the data also shows shoppers made fewer trips across fewer retailers but they spent more, with the average spend per visit increasing by 35% each trip.

The data also showed BWS sales in stores increased by 6.5% compared to the same period last year.

Shoppers also purchased fewer products on promotion with the percentage of sales falling to an all time low of 16%, down from last year’s average of 26%.

Over the last 12-week period, and due to the surge in sales pre-lockdown, all retailers experienced growth. Iceland had the biggest increase in sales (14.9%), followed by Lidl (up 14.3%) and The Co-op (up 13.6%).

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, said: “Retailer have increased online capacity significantly in the last few weeks, and they have worked quickly to adapt to the demands of shoppers amid the Covid-19 lockdown.

“This has been done by increasing the number of delivery slots while prioritising the more vulnerable and improving order sizes so that shoppers can minimise the frequency of shopping.

“Though this has taken away from of the footfall to stores, retailers’ i9mpressive efficiency online in the last few weeks has relieved a lot of the pressure on store operations, which have been impacted by social distancing requirements that have limited both how we shop and what we buy.

“However, it is too soon to know whether the larger trend that we have seen in the last four weeks with the fall in visits and the shift to online will continue as we slowly begin to exit restricted living over the next couple of months.”