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Kantar: ‘whopper’ Christmas for UK grocery channel

The UK grocery channel saw its busiest Christmas since 2019, the latest data from Kantar has shown, with 488 million trips to the supermarkets in the four weeks to 24 December – 12 million more than last year – and the largest number at Christmas since pre-pandemic times. 

Smartphone with a white screen in a shopping trolley. Online shopping for Christmas gifts

Sales hit a record £13.7 billion, with the average household spend was at an all-time high of £477, the retail analyst said – a rise of £28 on last year. Grocery price inflation also saw its fastest month-on-month drop in December, down to 6.7% – its lowest level since April 2022 – while the discounters hit their highest ever market shares for the Christmas period.

There was also a boost for online, which saw a 2% boost, holding a steady share of the market at 11.6%, while total take-home grocery sales grew in value by 7.0%.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, described it as a “whopper” Christmas, with Friday 22 December being the most popular shopping day, up 85% on the average Friday in 2023.

McKevitt said that despite the rate of inflation coming down at the fastest pace Kantar has ever recorded,  consumers were still facing “pretty hefty pressures on their budgets”.

“Retailers were clearly working hard during the festive period to offer best value and win over shoppers, and promotions were central to their strategy,” he said. “Nearly one third of all spend in the four weeks to Christmas Eve was made on items with some kind of offer, the highest level since December 2020 and £823 million more than last year.”

The traditional supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose – accounted for 70% of market share in the 12 weeks to 24 December, with own label lines doing well, particularly the premium ranges.

Sainsbury’s reached its highest market share since December 2020, accounting for 15.8% of the market, after sales rose 9.3%, while Tesco gained 0.1 percentage points of share to 27.6% of the market, with sales up 7.5%.  Asda accelerated sales growth to 3.4% to take 13.6% of the market, while Morrisons saw sales up 3.2%, taking its share to 8.8%. However, it was the discounters, Lidl and Aldi that continued their trajectory as the fastest growing grocers year-on-year, with Lidl increasing sales by 13.8% and Aldi seeing growth of 9.9%.  This helped boost Lidl’s market share rose by 0.5 percentage points to 7.7% and Aldi’s by 0.2 percentage points, to 9.3%.

Convenience retailer The Co-op saw market share of 5.4%, following a 3.8% increase in sales since last year, while Waitrose held steady at 4.6% of the market, having seen a 1% rise in the number of shoppers over the 12-week period.

Online purchases grew slightly ahead of the market during the four weeks to 24 December versus last year, up by 7.5%.

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