Thursday 19 March 2020 10:23 am

Ocado sales double as demand soars amid coronavirus panic

Online supermarket Ocado has reported a jump in sales as demand for home delivery soars amid the coronavirus crisis.

Ocado said sales had doubled in the second quarter compared to the previous period as shoppers made bigger and more frequent orders as they stockpiled goods.

Read more: Credit Suisse quarterly profit rises despite coronavirus turmoil

The grocer was forced to close its website and app until at least Saturday while it attempts to make its delivery slot allocation fairer and easier for older and more vulnerable people.  All delivery slots were booked up for the next few days. 

This morning Ocado said during the last week there were hours with 100 times the normal level of customer demand, and demand and transactions were higher in less than one day than during a standard week. 

Ocado this morning said retail revenue growth guidance for the year is unchanged at 10 to 15 per cent as the spike in sales represents “forward-buying”. 

Melanie Smith, Ocado Retail’s chief executive, said: “The impact of higher basket values and order demand, amid growing public concern over the Coronavirus, was limited in the quarter, although this has since picked up significantly and growth in the second quarter is so far double that of the first quarter. 

“We expect the impact of forward buying, however, to unwind at some point.”

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “There may be some capacity constraints at the moment but we still think Ocado’s in a good spot. 

Read more: Coronavirus: Ocado closes website down as demand soars

“As the pandemic progresses we expect more people will want, or be forced, to avoid physical shops.

“Ocado’s online-only offer means it should be able to capture a fair chunk of business, even as shopping habits start to become less frenzied.”