Amazon steps up challenge in UK grocery delivery

FILE PHOTO: An "Amazon Fresh" delivery truck is seen parked in Brooklyn, New York, August 28, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Amazon will begin fast and free deliveries of groceries in London on Tuesday, with the aim of rolling out the service across the United Kingdom by the year-end as the coronavirus-driven lockdown boosted online sales of essentials.

The e-commerce giant said here it has added the 'Fresh' service to its UK website to deliver meat, produce, snacks and other household essentials in two-hour windows for orders above 40 pounds ($52), with no shipping charges for its 'Prime' members.

The move, which takes on some of the biggest names in British grocery retail, had been flagged by trade press earlier this year.

Industry data showed that grocery sales in Britain rose 14.6% in the four weeks to July 12 compared with a year earlier, though it was slower from previous weeks as restrictions to contain the novel coronavirus were eased.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri