LONDON, June 26 ― British supermarket giant Tesco announced today that its first-quarter sales jumped eight percent, boosted by rocketing online purchases as people switched to grocery deliveries during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
Total sales surged to £13.4 billion (RM71.3 billion) in the company's first quarter ― the 13 weeks to end-May ― compared with a year earlier, the nation's biggest retailer said in a trading update.
The bumper performance came after the government imposed a lockdown on March 23 in a bid to halt the Covid-19 outbreak. Restrictions began to be eased this month.
Online sales soared by a staggering 48.5 per cent in the reporting period as the company ramped up its delivery capability to cope with booming demand from customers staying at home.
The online business saw sales sky-rocket by more than 90 per cent in May alone, the company added.
“Through a very challenging period for everyone, Tesco colleagues have gone above and beyond, and I'm extremely proud of what they've achieved,” Chief Executive Dave Lewis said in the earnings release.
He added: “We doubled our online capacity to help support our most vulnerable customers and transformed our stores with extensive social distancing measures so that everyone who was able to shop in store could do so safely.
“The costs of doing this have been significant and only partly offset by business rates relief and increased volume. We see the balance as an investment in supporting our customers at a time when they need it most.”
Tesco said it has grown its online business “as quickly as possible” in response to “significantly increased demand”.
The retailer is now delivering more than 1.3 million online orders per week, with a total of 12.6 million filled during the first quarter.
Around one quarter of the group's online division comprised its click-and-collect service, whereby customers pre-order their shopping and collect it from the store.
“As a result of the changes we have made, our online grocery business has grown from about nine percent to over 16 percent of our total UK sales,” Tesco said. ― AFP