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Gloucestershire Business News

Shopping habits changed forever says Unilever boss

Changing shopping habits may not return to pre-coronavirus patterns according to the boss of Unilever.

Alan Jope, chief executive of the global manufacturer which has a factory in Gloucester, predicts the pandemic will accelerate a permanent move to online food shopping.

And he believes increased awareness of hygiene will bring a lasting demand for soap and cleaning products.

He was speaking as latest figures showed a 5.1 per cent drop in UK retail sales in March, together with major changes in what we were buying.

Mr Jope said: "I think we will be able to look back and see this as a point of inflection for online grocery shopping.

"Good luck getting an appointment for a grocery delivery. I think that will persist and we will adjust our approach to reflect that."

Unilever sales totalled 12.4billion euro in the first three months of 2020, on par with a year ago but below analyst expectations.

Demand for cleaning products, including brands such as Cif and Domestos, jumped 10 per cent and Mr Jope predicted "the whole hygiene thing will carry on".

But the demand for ice cream, which is heavily dependent on cafes and tourism, fell and the demand grooming products such as shampoo, deodorant and razors went down as people switched to working from home.

The latest monthly retail figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the steepest sales fall since it started collecting the date in 1996.

Online shopping reached a record high with 22 per cent of all retail activity, while alcohol sales soared by 31 per cent and food sales were up 11 per cent.

Clothing was the hardest hit sector, down by 34 per cent.

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