Tesco’s record Christmas sales reveal how COVID-19 has boosted interest in sustainability

Tesco announced record sales over Christmas, reporting that in 2020, the sales of vegan Christmas alternatives surged, with the retailer’s largest-ever plant-based festive ranges showing significant increases in interest. This is in line with GlobalData’s research which shows that over *1one in five (22%) consumers are buying less meat, while also recording significant increases in ethical and environmental concerns. Although these trends existed prior to the pandemic, COVID-19 has prioritised these issues, particularly over a festive period such as Christmas, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Ryan Whittaker, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “This new announcement shows how much COVID-19 has really reshaped consumer behavior. While the threat of COVID-19 kept consumers at home, ordering online, people have reported heightened ethical and environmental concerns. As consumers have been forced to stay home, they have been forced to consider the future they wish to build and how to best care for the places they live. It has been a shock to the system that has made people re-examine their priorities.”

According to GlobalData, *2significant numbers of UK consumers reported caring more about these issues than before the pandemic.

Whittaker comments: “Looking at Tesco’s results, these concerns have translated into increased sales of products that align with these values.”

Tesco also claims it hit a target of removing one billion pieces of plastic from products sold in the UK, including shrink wrap, greetings cards covers and plastic gifts inside Christmas crackers.

Whittaker continues: “Packaging is the other side of sustainability and e-commerce; sustainable plant-based ingredients are important, but GlobalData found that well over a *2third of UK consumers now care more about reducing plastic packaging at the end of 2020 as a result of the pandemic. Tesco’s reductions should be commended and emulated by competitors. Re-examining their supply chains to remove extraneous packaging should be a key pillar of every company involved in both groceries and e-commerce in 2021.”

UK consumers will continue to order groceries online for the foreseeable future, including after COVID-19. According to GlobalData, *344% of Brits will continue or start ordering more products online rather than instore in the ‘new normal’ that will follow the pandemic.

Whittaker adds: “Retailers should consider streamlining the online process to aid consumers in swapping products for plant-based and sustainable equivalents, going forward.”

“Tesco’s sales bump reveals how key the company is to UK consumers. The increased interest in plant-based and vegan products, and the company’s success in reducing plastic, reveals just how important sustainability is to contemporary grocery retailing in the UK. Companies should take note as, regardless of the pandemic and Brexit, the UK consumer demands a sustainable future.”

*1 GlobalData’s COVID-19 Recovery Tracker – UK, Published December 7th – combined responses: “I have stopped buying this”, “I am buying significantly lower quantities than before”, and “I am buying slightly lower quantities than before”

*2 GlobalData’s COVID-19 Recovery Tracker – UK, Published December 7th – combined responses: “It is now my top priority” “Significantly more important than before” “Slightly more important than before”

*3 GlobalData’s COVID-19 Recovery Tracker – UK, Published December 7th

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