Tea sales stirring up nicely

Tetley Super Tea

Recent times have been challenging for retailers.

In March and April, a spike in demand for essential items resulted in many no or low stocks. Sales of tea rose 40% across all sectors with every day teas and decaf top of the bill. (AC Nielsen 4 weeks to 21.3.20.)

Sales have settled down to more normal patterns since lockdown began to ease, but the shift to shopping more locally has meant sales have remained steady still in convenience.

The appeal of tea

Although frustrating, the rush on tea is an encouraging sign of its popularity. If we take a moment to consider, the beverage offers plenty of benefits which in turn could create opportunities for sales.

  • As a beverage sourced from natural ingredients and naturally low in caffeine, tea fits well with the desire for a healthier lifestyle, something very much front of mind.
  • Drinking tea helps contribute to our daily fluid intake.
  • It has good associations with taking time out, whether for our-selves, or to catch up with others.
  • There are many different flavours and formats available, both hot and cold, so there really is a tea for everybody and every occasion.
  • It’s also good for sales, tea buyers tend to have larger basket sales than average and tea can help sales of companion items like biscuits, milk, or breakfast products.

Current trends

Kantar figures show that the numbers buying tea and the spend per buyer have both gone up as have the number of tea occasions at home and carry out, which are up 785m yoy. Of the big brands Tetley still has the largest number of buyers and the greatest household penetration.

In terms of type of tea, everyday black still dominate sales, but shoppers are adding different teas into their selection which is benefitting sales across categories:

AC Nielsen data for the 12 weeks to 11 July 2020

Sector Volume Growth Total Impulse
Black everyday teas 9%
Speciality teas 11%
Fruit & Herbal 25%
Black decaf 50%
Green 29%
Redbush 5%

In total Scotland, strong sellers in the 12 weeks to 11.7.20 have been fruit and herbal up 0.1%; redbush up 10.9% and decaf up 12%.

What best to stock


With more people opting to shop locally, shoppers need to be confident that they will find what they are looking for.

Tea shoppers like brands and if they know you don’t stock what they want they will try elsewhere, so keep an eye on the top brands to help guide your selection

AC Nielsen Total Scotland year to 11.7.20

Top Sellers
Total Impulse
Volume % age share Top Sellers
Total Scotland
Volume % age share
Tetley 34% Tetley 46%
PG 27% Scottish Blend 10%
Yorkshire 19% Yorkshire 8%

Tea Type

Everyday black is still the dominant tea of choice accounting for 92% of all tea sales in Impulse, that’s 12% higher than in the grocery convenience sector which might suggest that opportunities in other tea sectors are being missed.

In total Scotland everyday black accounts for 80% of all tea sales.

To maximise opportunities, think of your customers and what would suit them best, a green and fruit and herbal offering plus an essential decaf to complement everyday black is a good place to start.

Different teas for different times and occasion

The tea people drink tends to change during the course of a day. To kickstart the day an everyday cuppa or traditional English Breakfast might fit the bill, green tea would match a healthy lunch and perhaps a fruit & herbal as the day winds down. The evening tends to see the biggest increase in fruit and herbals and decaffeinated consumption.

Thinking about what types of tea will suit your customers will naturally lead to thoughts about the occasion in which they will drink it and what other items might fit with the occasion. Site these products close by, or secondary site tea if appropriate, doing so can help boost sales across several categories.

Don’t brew confusion

Keeping your shelves fresh with new stocks will keep your customers interested and encourage repeat visits. If you stock something new bring customers’ attention to it and take note of how they react.

We all know of products that include ingredients that you have never heard of before, let along pronounce, so if this isn’t for your business go for something simpler.

At the start of lockdown Tetley introduced a range of classic gateway herbals to provide a more familiar pathway for habitual black tea drinkers to enter the herbal space. Simpler, natural ingredients delivering easily imagined taste experiences offer a safe, affordable stepping stone to something new.

Size matters

With more people continuing to opt to shop more locally, the type of packs they are looking for is changing too.

Smaller pack sizes of 40s and 80s continue to do well for local stores, but larger packs sizes like 160s and even 240s are fast becoming essential stocks. Sales of Tetley 240s within impulse are up 12% in this sector.

Tea trends

Interest in healthier living is a big driver of tea sales which benefits the ‘healthy’ sectors like decaf and fruit and herbal.

Another area of interest is Cold Infusions, these types of infusions are ideal to drop into cold water to perk it up with a fruity burst of flavour. Great for warmer day sales and on the go hydration.

Tetley cold infusions

Retaining shopper loyalty

If the need to shop safely was not enough, shoppers are now having to deal with recessionary fears.

The offer of a safe place to shop combined with assurance of value will be increasingly important to maintain customer loyalty.

Price mark packs and packs with extra free will grow in importance in the battle for customer retention, 82% of shoppers actively seek them out when shopping (Him!), but think carefully about where best to use them.

PMP are most important in high-volume segments like every day teas and decaf where they work well to boost volume sales, but consider the balance between offering the right price mark to encourage higher volume sales of essential everyday products, whilst leaving space for higher value products like fruit and herbals and green, which don’t necessarily need to be sold as a price mark and can deliver higher margin sales.

Making the most of tea

No matter who we are, we have all felt a little out of touch recently. To help keep on top of all things tea, Tetley has a mobile, ipad and android friendly guide to the tea category at with marketing insights, shelf plans, tips on what to stock, what’s selling best and how to maximise sales.

We’re working to enhance the site to invite retailers to share their challenges and experiences so that we can learn from each other whilst keeping the tea market buoyant; good for customers and good for business.

Tetley cold infusions

Tetley decaf

Tetley herbal teas


This publication contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under the age of 18 years old.

This website contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under 18 years of age.

This website contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under 18 years of age.

This publication contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under the age of 18 years old.