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Tech, Food Innovation Drives Sainsbury’s Digital Groceries Sales To Twice Pre-Pandemic Levels in H1

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Like many businesses, U.K. grocery chain Sainsbury’s is riding the digital transformation wave triggered by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the first quarter of its financial year – 28 weeks, ending Sept. 18, 2021 – the British grocer reported £15.7 billion ($21.2 billion) in sales, a 5.3% increase compared to the same period last year, and up 4.2% from two years ago.

While digital sales didn’t increase between 2020 and this year, as more customers return to shopping in their physical stores and lead online grocery demands to drop from their peak levels, the supermarket said demand for its digital business remains twice as high as it was in 2019, pre-pandemic.

Read more: Sainsbury’s Creates Cashierless Store

The grocer recorded £5.8 billion ($7.8 billion) in digital sales in 2021, more than double (+108%) the £2.7 billion ($3.6 billion) it made in online sales made two years prior.

These results, according to the company, have made it the biggest online market share winner and the second-largest online grocery retailer, based on data it gathered from Nielsen.

“Whilst customers are returning to many pre-pandemic shopping habits, online sales have remained very strong and we continue to grow market share,” Simon Roberts, Sainsbury’s CEO, said during an earnings call with analysts on Thursday (Nov. 4).

Roberts added: “We have grown market share through improving value for customers, tripling our rate of food innovation and delivering customer satisfaction ahead of our key competitors.”

See also: British Grocery Chain Sainsbury’s Slashes 3K Jobs

The company also said investments in its online channel have helped improve fulfillment productivity, boosting picking rates and basket sizes in the process, while it relaunched both home delivery and same-day click-and-collect services.

As a result, demand for same-day delivery has increased, with an average of 70,000 weekly orders delivered from about 440 shops in as little as 30 minutes through Sainsbury’s own Chop Chop service, Deliveroo and UberEats.

Related: Deliveroo And UK Grocer Sainsbury’s Expand Delivery Trial

In April of this year, PYMNTS reported that under a two-year deal, U.K. delivery service Deliveroo would provide goods from around 100 Sainsbury’s stores — up from 10 stores involved in a trial arrangement.

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As the holidays draw close, the company said it will be helping to make this year’s Christmas “special” for customers by launching close to 300 innovative new Christmas products, including several additions to its Taste the Difference line and new “Pigs in Snowy Blanket Dragon Sushi Rolls” in its by Sainsbury’s line.

Roberts acknowledged that the industry is facing labor and supply chain challenges, but said the company was well prepared to face the storm.

“Our scale, advanced cost saving program, logistics operations and strong supplier relationships put us in a good position as we head into Christmas,” he said.

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