New Kantar figures show brisk business as consumers opened their wallets over Christmas

Potato sales rose 8 per cent in December

Potato sales rose 8 per cent in December

Supermarket sales reached pre-pandemic levels in the run up to Christmas, new figures show.

According to Kantar, supermarkets saw their highest level of transactions in December since 2019, with Brits making 488 million trips to the supermarkets over the four weeks to 24 December. That’s 12m more than last year and the largest number at Christmas since pre-pandemic times.

A record £13.7 billion passed through the tills, with the average household spending an all-time high of £477 across the month, an increase of £28 on 2022. Total take-home grocery sales grew in value by 7 per cent, while the number of items bought rose by 2 per cent.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, explained: “As we expected, this Christmas was a whopper. Friday 22 December turned out to be the most popular shopping day, when just over 25m trips were made and consumers spent £803m in physical stores – that’s 85 per cent more than the average Friday in 2023.

“Online’s share of the market held steady at 11.6 per cent, as nearly one in five households got a delivery in for the big day.”

Inflation continues to fall, while veg sales rise

Grocery price inflation fell to 6.7 per cent in December, its lowest level since April 2022, but Kantar noted that many consumers are still feeling the pinch. “The rate of inflation is coming down at the fastest pace we have ever recorded, but consumers are still facing pretty hefty pressures on their budgets,” McKevitt said.

“Retailers were clearly working hard during the festive period to offer best value and win over shoppers, and promotions were central to their strategy. 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 £823m more than last year.”

Consumers’ appetite for the traditional Christmas dinner was particularly strong in 2023, with volumes of parsnips, sprouts and potatoes up 12, 9 and 8 per cent respectively.

Good times for Sainsbury’s

In the battle for market superiority, Sainsbury’s reached its highest market share since December 2020 at 15.8 per cent, pushing up its sales by 9.3 per cent. Tesco gained 0.1 percentage points of share to now hold 27.6 per cent of the market and grew sales by 7.5 per cent.

Lidl and Aldi continue to be the fastest-growing grocers year on year and the discounters hit their highest-ever market shares for the Christmas period. Lidl increased sales by 13.8 per cent, while Aldi saw growth of 9.9 per cent.

Lidl’s market share rose by 0.5 percentage points to 7.7 per cent and Aldi’s grew 0.2 percentage points, meaning its market share now stands at 9.3 per cent.