Supermarket sales down as shoppers go local for festive treats

Supermarkets’ Christmas sales are down compared to last year as shoppers buy their mince pies, brussel sprouts and champagne elsewhere, according to new figures.

The report by retail analysts IRI found that sales for the 12 big Christmas sectors fell 1.8% year on year for the 4 weeks to 13 December. Among the list of Christmas favourites, which includes wine and champagne, snacks and mince pies, just one in five has experienced sales growth while the rest are down by an average of 8.4%.

Champagne sales were particularly badly hit, falling by 20% year on year, while Christmas cakes saw sales fall 11.4% and brussel sprouts were down 14.2%. Only sales of crisps, snacks and nuts, spirits and cards and decorations saw any growth.

Tim Eales, strategic insight director at IRI, says the figures suggest that supermarkets are losing out to independent retailers and the discounters for the Christmas shop. Lidl’s advertising and marketing director Arnd Pickhardt recently told Marketing Week that it is expecting a record year as it attracts more shoppers over the festive period.

“Has the fizz gone out of Christmas buying? It seems that the UK’s major grocery multiples are only marginally losing out on sales of the staples over Christmas but some shoppers are going elsewhere for their festive treats,” he adds.

Supermarkets sales have also been hit by the drop in the price of food caused by both the discounters and falling commodity prices. YouGov predicts that the average British family will spend £174 on food and drink this year, £6 less than last year as retailers sell more items on promotion.

Yesterday (22 December) was predicted to be the most popular day for the main festive food shop, with today expected to be the biggest shopping day for last minute grocery top-ups. Visa estimates that £1.3bn will be put on credit cards today, peaking at lunchtime.

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