Sociable Brits spent £14bn on Christmas food and drink

Supermarkets

Brits spent £14bn on Christmas goods at UK supermarkets in the pre-Christmas period as a focus on festive entertaining boosted key food and drink categories, figures reveal.

The data, released today from NielsenIQ, shows an increase of 8.7% compared with pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Following on from weeks of uncertainty surrounding the possibility of further Covid-19 restrictions, shoppers were able to get together over the Christmas period, hold parties and entertain friends and family.

Unsurprisingly, supermarkets saw a surge in sales of snacking and party food, with chilled baguettes up by almost a fifth (18%) and classic festive choices such as fresh trifle and sausage rolls also increasing in sales (by 8% and 7% respectively) in the four week period ending 1 January 2022.

Sales for chocolate were up 8%, with UK shoppers spending an estimated £380m in this category over the Christmas period.

Read more: UK supermarket sales top £7.1bn as shoppers head in-store

It wasn’t all about classic Christmas fare though, as sales of fresh oriental ready meals grew by 20%, while sales of vegetarian burgers were up 19%, with shoppers happy to branch out as they sought alternatives to traditional festive food.

Soft drinks also performed well as a category, growing by 14.5% compared with 2019, and by 9.4% year-on-year.

“All retailers had more shoppers than this time last year and most had more visits, even if spend per visit was a little lower at just over £21,” said NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight, Mike Watkins.

“Shoppers were willing to buy the extra Christmas indulgences and temporarily put aside their concerns about the rising cost of living.”

Looking ahead, Watkins predicts that shoppers facing significantly higher energy, travel and other household costs will look to make savings on their weekly food shop by managing budgets accordingly.

“We may see them buying what they need when they need it, wasting less fresh food and steering clear of unnecessary cupboard stocking,” he added.

“This would give added momentum to the return of the ‘little and more often’ macro trend we are anticipating, as we hopefully leave behind the pandemic shopping behaviour in the new year.”

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