Take-home grocery sales reached £31.7 billion over the 12 weeks to 26 December 2021 as shoppers made the most of Christmas festivities, according to the latest figures from Kantar. Although down by 3.0% compared with 2020, spending remains higher than it was pre-pandemic and sales were 8.0% stronger than in 2019.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “People seized the chance to enjoy Christmas with friends and family after last year’s muted festivities, and grocery sales hit £11.7 billion over the month of December alone. This lofty spend figure is down just 0.2% on record 2020 sales when several areas faced restrictions and the data suggests that while there weren’t formal rules in place across the UK this year, many people celebrated at home again due to Omicron. 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.”
While spending on many traditional Christmas dinner items was broadly similar compared with last year, there was ample evidence of people treating themselves and guests.
Premium own-label sales broke records this Christmas and shoppers spent £627 million on supermarkets’ own upmarket lines over the four weeks to 26 December, an increase of 6.8% versus 2020. McKevitt said: “The appetite to celebrate and splash out that little bit more this year pushed sales of luxury own-brand products up across the board.”
Alongside Christmas indulgence, rising prices also pushed up shopping budgets. McKevitt said: “Grocery price inflation reached 3.5% in December, adding nearly £15 to shoppers’ average monthly grocery bill. 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.”
Despite rising COVID-19 case numbers, online sales fell in December by 3.7% against 2020 and accounted for 12.2% of sales. Individual retailers found it challenging to secure year-on-year growth over the Christmas period following last year’s highs, but every major grocer increased sales compared with the final 12 weeks of 2019.
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.