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Spirits outpace grocery sales in run up to Christmas

UK shoppers spent £200 million on spirits in the first two weeks of December, up £7m on the same period last year, while spend on other groceries has declined, according to market research company IRI.

whiskey on the rocks, vibrant colors
Nearly £74 million was spent on whisky alone in the first two weeks of December

While overall supermarket sales of FMCG products fell to £4.9 billion in the two weeks to 12 December, down 1.6% on the previous year, shoppers spent more than £630 million on beers, wines and spirits, up 3.3%. Of this, more than £200 million was spent on spirits alone, up 3.8% – the equivalent of an extra £7 million compared to last year.

Nearly £74 million was spent on whisky and around £64.5 million on white spirits (Vodka and Gin), up 5.6% in the two-week period, while rum saw a slight increase in sales of 2.3% over last year. Sales of sparkling wines were up by 11.6%, helped by the continued success of Prosecco.

While sales of alcohol are up, sales of more traditional Christmas fare have dropped, with Christmas cakes and puddings down 5.3%, salty snacks down 3% and bacon, gammon and sausages down 13.2%. Total food sales reached £3.5 billion, down 1.3% on the previous year, while non-food sales totalled £1.4 billion, down 2.1% on last year.

“While consumers get into the spirit of Christmas, literally in many cases, it seems that some of the more traditional Christmas categories are in decline, including cakes and desserts, while Christmas baking items are also down,” said Martin Wood, head of strategic insight, retail solutions and innovation at IRI.

“This could be down to people taking a more healthy approach to the big day, but it’s probably a little too early to say whether this trend will continue and we expect figures to bounce back during a busy Christmas shopping period this week.”

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