Grocery sales hit £11.7bn in December

Despite rising Covid-19 case numbers, Kantar found that online sales fell in December by 3.7% against 2020 and accounted for 12.2% of sales

Take-home grocery sales reached £11.7bn in December alone as shoppers upped their spending to celebrate Christmas, according to the latest figures from Kantar.

Over the 12 weeks to 26 December 2021, shoppers spent £31.7bn primarily boosted by the December performance. 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.

Notably, Kantar found that shoppers spent on Christmas treats with mince pie sales reaching £62m in December, a jump of 7% on 2020. A similar amount, £61m, was also spent on Christmas chocolates – up 21% compared with the previous year.

Premium own-label sales also 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.

Grocery price inflation also reached 3.5% in December, adding nearly £15 to shoppers’ average monthly grocery bill.

Despite rising Covid-19 case numbers, Kantar found that online sales fell in December by 3.7% against 2020 and accounted for 12.2% of sales.

It added that individual retailers “found it challenging” to secure year-on-year growth over the Christmas period following last year’s performance, 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.

In terms of market share, the UK’s 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.

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 £11.7bn 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.”

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