Grocery sales rise as Brits splash out on premium foods

Grocery sales
The £11.7 billion figure over the four weeks leading up to Christmas was just 0.2% behind a year ago
// Grocery sales rise in December as Brits spend more money on Christmas products
// Sales through supermarket tills over the 12 weeks to 26 December reached £31.7bn

New research has found that grocery sales have reached £11.7 billion in December as shoppers spent more money on Christmas goods.

According to the latest data from Kantar, sales through supermarket tills over the 12 weeks to 26 December reached £31.7 billion.

Although down 3% versus 2020, spending remained higher than it was pre-pandemic and sales were 8% stronger than in 2019.

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The £11.7 billion figure over the four weeks leading up to Christmas was just 0.2% behind a year ago when gatherings of family and friends were restricted.

“We can really see just how much spending accelerated in December compared with earlier in the year by looking at the average trend during March to November when sales were down by 2.5% against 2020,” Kantar head of retail and consumer insight, Fraser McKevitt said.

“Food and drink spend peaked two days before Christmas. Shoppers clearly trusted that supermarket shelves would remain well stocked and they didn’t feel the need to rush out much earlier to get their favourite festive treats.

“We saw prices rise faster for a short while in spring 2020 when promotions were cut to maintain product availability, but before that you would have to go back nearly four years to January 2018 to see inflation running higher.

“The appetite to celebrate and splash out that little bit more this year pushed sales of luxury own-brand products up across the board. Sparkling and still wine sales grew 22% and 18% respectively, while crisps surged by 31%.

“Tesco’s Finest and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference are easily the largest premium own-label ranges, but we saw the fastest growth from other ranges such as Asda Extra Special and Iceland Luxury.”

Despite fears over rising Covid-19 case numbers in the face of the new Omicron variant, online sales fell 3.7% in December, compared with 2020, accounting for 12.2% of sales as in-store visits hit their highest level since March 2020, with 23 December being the busiest shopping day.

Premium own-label sales broke records this Christmas and shoppers spent £627m on supermarkets’ own upmarket lines over the four weeks to 26 December, an increase of 6.8% versus 2020.

Online specialist Ocado was the only retailer to buck the trend over the latest 12 weeks and grow versus last year, increasing its sales by 2.5%. At the same time, Tesco continued to gain market share, up by 0.6% to 27.9%, the highest it’s been since January 2018. Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose also grew their shares by 0.3%, 0.2% and 0.1% respectively.

Second-largest grocer Sainsbury’s now holds 15.7% of the market, with Asda on 14.2% and Morrisons on 10.1%. Independent retailers have a combined share of 1.6%. Meanwhile, 5.8% of the market belongs to the Co-op and 2.4% to Iceland.

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