Online retailer Ocado saw its sales over the last two months increase by 40% as more consumers shopped from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
In its latest AGM trading statement, the online grocer said it had increased its capacity at its South East London warehouse to be able to cope with 110,000 orders a week compared to 80,000 at the end of the first quarter.
The retailer revealed its retail revenue in the second quarter grew by 40.4% compared to 10.3% growth in the first quarter. It also said the number of items per basket had dropped following the surge in demand, stating that normal shopping behaviour has resumed.
Ocado also revealed that it has been able to deliver to an additional 6,000 households a week, something it attributes to suspending the delivery of mineral water to reduce the weight of loads.
It also revealed that its one hour Zoom delivery service was rolled out across London a year earlier than planned in order to meet the demand from customers.
Tim Steiner, Ocado Group CEO, said: “We are facing quite a different challenge to many, as we scale up Ocado.com to play its part in feeding the nation, and as we help our clients launch and roll out their online businesses more rapidly against a backdrop of a likely long term increase in demand for online.
“Ocado remains in a strong position and while we should be grateful that our current challenges are around growth, expansion and increased demand, we have great empathy for all who are facing different challenges at this time. In retail, we are working with our small suppliers to make sure we pay them earlier than normal and we will work closely with any who are struggling.”
Waitrose has also experienced a surge in demand for deliveries, revealing that its online service increased by more than 50% to more than 120,000 customer orders per week during the pandemic.
As consumer demand remains high in the capital, the retailer has also announced a six-acre Customer Fulfilment Centre in Enfield, North London, to double its online grocery by September.
The site is creating 370 new jobs, building to 850 when at full capacity, by which time it will be adding 13,000 weekly delivery slots for London customers.
The centre is part of a £100m investment in its online business, in preparation for Waitrose.com becoming the only place its customers can buy Waitrose food online from September of this year.
The Enfield centre will work alongside an existing centre in Coulsdon, which delivers Waitrose.com customer grocery orders across the South London area, and a network of 14 delivery shops in the capital, which together deliver to all London postcodes.
Waitrose.com director Ben Stimson said: “Before coronavirus, Waitrose.com was already going through a period of significant expansion, with investment across our infrastructure and website. Enfield was planned as a big part of our expansion plans – but in fact it is now also helping us respond as best we can to the huge demand for online slots – especially from our most vulnerable customers.
“One thing that recent weeks have highlighted to us is the importance of online retail to vulnerable people. Our shops have always been firmly rooted in their communities but through these challenging times our Partners working in shops and delivering grocery orders have been at the forefront of trying to respond to these needs in a way we couldn’t have imagined. We’re extremely proud of Partners across the country and the vital role they’re carrying out.”