Record Christmas sales for supermarkets

UK supermarkets have seen their busiest Christmas period since before the pandemic, according to new figures.

The latest monthly report from industry analyst Kantar shows that consumers made 488 million trips to the supermarkets in the four weeks to 24 December — 12 million more than last year. Friday 22 December was the most popular shopping day, when just over 25 million trips to stores were made.

Transactions in the four-week period reached the highest level for December since 2019, and spending climbed to £13.7bn.

Inflation was largely behind this record figure, with total take-home grocery sales growing in value by 7.0% while the number of items bought rose by 2%.

However, grocery price inflation is continuing to fall and in December it declined for the tenth month in a row to 6.7% — down from 9.1% in November, the fastest pace ever recorded.

The average household spent £477 in supermarkets across the month, an increase of £28 on 2022. 

Shoppers turned to promotions to help cut costs. Nearly one-third of all supermarket spending in the four weeks to Christmas Eve went on items with some kind of offer.

Retailers’ own-label lines also performed well, with sales of premium ranges like Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference and Tesco Finest up 11.9% compared with last year and accounting for 5.7% of all grocery sales.

Looking at sales of traditional Christmas dinner items, Kantar said that volumes of parsnips, sprouts and potatoes were up 12%, 9% and 8% respectively compared to last year, while sales of festive meats grew by 6% in volume. Mince pies and Christmas puddings were less popular, with volumes falling by 4% and 7%, but fresh cream was up 5% across the month, suggesting that dessert was still very much on the menu.