UK households spent £1.1bn more on groceries in December for fewer items

Spending higher than year earlier, with World Cup football pushing up beer sales

Households in the UK spent £1.1bn more on groceries in December than a year earlier, taking Christmas spending to a record £12.8bn, but got fewer items in their baskets as rampant inflation hit home.

In a clear indication of how soaring prices are hammering household budgets, the latest monthly report from retail analysts Kantar showed that despite the overall amount shoppers spent rising more than 9%, the volume of sales was down 1% on the same month in 2021.

Many stocked up on alcohol to enjoy while watching the men’s football World Cup, with sales of beer reaching the highest level for the year on the day of England’s quarter-final against France on 10 December.

However, the most popular shopping day of the year was Friday 23 December – when more than half of households went to stores or received a delivery.

Last month was the busiest in supermarkets since the coronavirus pandemic, with online sales accounting for a lower proportion of the total festive blowout than last year.

Inflation prompted shoppers to cut back on some traditional favourites. The number of mince pies sold barely increased, for example, but the sum spent on them rose by 19%. Only 45% of households bought brussels sprouts, down from 48% a year before. However, the number of Christmas puddings sold rose 6% despite heavy inflation, which meant shoppers spent 16% more in total on the festive dessert.

With heavy competition among supermarkets, grocery price inflation slipped to 14.4% in December, from 14.6% in November. The value of sales of groceries to take home – so not including takeaway sandwiches and drinks – rose 7.6% in the three months to 25 December, with only sales at Morrisons and Waitrose falling.

Fraser McKevitt, the head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “This is the second month in a row that grocery price inflation has fallen, raising hopes that the worst has now passed. However, it’s still a painfully high figure at the current rate, impacting how and what we buy at the shops.”

Shoppers continue to seek to combat inflation by turning to supermarket own-label products, where sales rose 13.7%. Sales of premium own-label items were particularly strong, with Aldi and Lidl taking the lead, underpinning total sales growth of 27% and 24% respectively in the three months to Christmas Day – well ahead of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda, which reported growth of 6%, 6.2% and 6.4%.


Sarah Butler

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
M&S enjoys a bumper Christmas with best ever food sales
Retailer boasts biggest share of clothing and homeware market in seven years, as Tesco hails festive boom

Sarah Butler

12, Jan, 2023 @8:32 AM

Article image
Bleak Christmas looms for non-food retailers
Good news for food shops but other high-street outlets may suffer as consumers go online

Sarah Butler

20, Nov, 2018 @12:01 AM

Article image
UK households ‘spent 12% more on essentials in February than year earlier’
Almost four in 10 people have to use credit cards to cover such costs, says Nationwide

Rupert Jones

24, Mar, 2023 @12:01 AM

Article image
UK households turn to TV subscriptions as they cut back on nights out
Consumers reduce spending on groceries, clothes and eating out as they seek to balance budgets

Mark Sweney

10, Apr, 2023 @11:01 PM

Article image
New Covid variant and looming Brexit disruption deepen UK economic gloom
Our latest snapshot of key economic indicators show retail sales falling, job losses soaring, GDP growth and stock market stalling

Richard Partington Economics correspondent

23, Dec, 2020 @12:00 PM

Article image
Sainsbury’s sales rise as people turn to its Argos chain amid strikes
Supermarket on track for profits at top end of forecasts after shoppers go ‘all out for big Christmas dinner’

Sarah Butler

11, Jan, 2023 @10:18 AM

Article image
Super Saturday: retailers hope for £1.4bn surge in sales
Sainsbury’s expects to sell four tonnes of sprouts, 1.8m mince pies and 400,000 bottles of fizz

Sarah Butler

21, Dec, 2018 @5:28 PM

Article image
Ice-cream demand fires up supermarket sales in June
Soaring temperatures and rising inflation deliver biggest rise in more than five years

Sarah Butler

28, Jun, 2017 @6:57 AM

Article image
Pound falls as weak retail sales raise fears UK economy is in recession
On Black Wednesday anniversary, sterling hits 37-year low against dollar and 17-month low against euro

Phillip Inman

16, Sep, 2022 @2:07 PM

Article image
Tesco chairman warns of food price inflation at 5% by spring
John Allan fears rate will rise quickly after big hike in energy costs filters through supply chain

Miles Brignall

06, Feb, 2022 @4:57 PM