December shop prices fall as retailers battle for customers’ Christmas spend

Shop prices Christmas Nielsen BRC Mike Watkins Helen Dickinson
Food inflation eased slightly by 0.4%, down from 1.3% in November, making it the lowest rate of inflation since March 2018
// Shop prices dropped in December as retailers attempted to benefit from last-minute Christmas spend
// Shop prices dropped 1.8% in December – the same as the previous month
// This was below both the 12- and six-month decreases of 1.4% and 1.6% respectively

Shop prices in December have dropped as supermarkets battled for consumer spend by offering the value festive goods.

New research found that shop prices dropped 1.8 per cent last month, the same as the previous month, as retailers used discounting to drive sales during the festive season.

This was below both the 12 and six-month decreases of 1.4 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively, according to the latest figures from the BRC and Nielsen.


READ MORE: Shop prices tumble as retailers ramp up festive discounting


Meanwhile, non-food prices continued to drop, down 3.2 per cent in December, compared with a 3.7 per cent drop in November, as non-essential items became the focus due to tightened restrictions across the UK.

This was below the 12-month average price decline of three per cent but in line with the six-month average price decline of 3.2 per cent.

Food inflation eased slightly by 0.4 per cent, down from 1.3 per cent in November, making it the lowest rate of inflation since March 2018.

Fresh food prices fell by 0.9 per cent, against a rise of 0.5 per cent in November, which was the first fall in fresh food inflation since January 2017.

Ambient food price inflation slowed to 2.3 per cent from 2.5 per cent the previous month.

“It was welcome news for shoppers in the run-up to Christmas as prices fell in December,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“As in November, non-food prices dropped, and retail firms who have been hardest hit by the pandemic this year, such as fashion outlets, are continuing to offer discounts.

“Notably, food inflation eased to its lowest since March 2018, with a significant fall in fresh food prices.

“This was largely driven by last year’s decrease in global food prices filtering through onto British shelves, as well as the fierce competition between supermarkets to offer customers the best value, quality goods in the face of testing circumstances.”

Nielsen head of retailer insight Mike Watkins said: “Shoppers were cautious about Christmas with many expecting to spend the same or less this year, and after the disruption of the lockdowns in November non-food retail had a rollercoaster month so keeping prices low will have helped maintain spend through to the end of December.

“For supermarkets, the shift of spend away from the hospitality channel gave a boost to sales but limits on family gatherings changed what was bought and supermarkets focused on price cuts in seasonal and fresh food to encourage shoppers to spend on treats and indulgences, and to help make Christmas more affordable.”

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