Miserable May weather saw Britons ditch ice lollies for hotpots, Ocado finds

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<p>Ocado has seen customer numbers and revenues soar since Covid hit </p> (PA Media)

Ocado has seen customer numbers and revenues soar since Covid hit

(PA Media)

This spring was one of the coldest in a century, and Ocado has revealed that the miserable weather had a serious impact on Britons’ virtual shopping baskets.

In stark contrast to last spring, when the sun shone brightly and people stocked up on ice lollies and barbecue staples, Ocado saw searches for hotpots surge 176% year-on-year in May.

Searches for fresh soup and casserole were both up 84% on the same period a year earlier, the online grocery retailer said, while searches for sun cream and ice lollies in the month were down 67% and 51% respectively.

Ocado said that it is expecting the trend to reverse this month, with “blue sky and warm weather finally having arrived”.

It said: “These results indicate the weather has been a major factor in shaping preferences… We would expect sun cream and BBQ essentials to be back in the basket for June.”

The FTSE 100 firm has seen millions embrace digital shopping since the pandemic hit.

Its retail arm, a joint venture tie-up with Marks & Spencer, saw first-quarter sales rise 40% to £599 million. The partnership launched in September after M&S replaced Waitrose as a grocery supplier to Ocado.

In April it revealed it is to invest £10 million in software specialist Oxbotica, to help develop technology for a range of self-driving vehicles it can use, including “kerb-tokitchen robots”.

The company, which is led by Tim Steiner, said the ultimate ambition is to enable its clients “to reduce the costs of last-mile delivery and other logistics operations”.

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