Sales of beer, wine and spirits fell almost 16% (15.9%) in the four weeks to April 23, according to the latest data from NielsenIQ.

Overall, total grocery sales in supermarkets dropped 1.8% over the four week period, with Easter sales helping to increase spend from the -4.1% seen in March.

NielsenIQ said that UK shoppers spent £10.1 billion on groceries in the four weeks. This is down from £10.5 billion in the same four-week Easter period in 2021, but it is above the £9.6 billion in sales recorded during the same period in 2019, “highlighting a rebalancing of basket spend as UK shopping habits return to pre-pandemic levels”.

“Easter is a catalyst for sales growth and if a later Easter lands with warm weather, this can really help drive footfall,” said Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight. “This was the case last year, which also coincided with the end of the final lockdown, giving a one-off boost to supermarket sales. Although sales this year are more subdued, they are still above levels recorded pre-pandemic in 2019, and further indicate a return to normal shopping behaviours, where shoppers no longer need to be concerned about stock levels and shortages.”

When it came to retailer performance, NielsenIQ said Aldi (+6.4%) and Lidl (+9.1%) led the market in terms of growth, helped by new comparative advertising campaigns that focussed on the prices of their overall shopping basket. Tesco was the only retailer of the big four supermarkets to have gained market share and Marks & Spencer’s performance remained strong.

Watkins went on to highlight continued cost-of-living increases. “Retailers will be under pressure to ensure they have consumer mindsets front of mind, which are set to focus more on economising on the number of items purchased,” he said.

“Promotional spend has already moved up to 21.5% of value sales and, whilst in this instance this reflects seasonal promotions, this could also herald the start of more overt pricing activity in the weeks ahead, such as via private-label price cuts and more targeted promotions through loyalty schemes. With this in mind, it will be important for retailers and brands to adapt ranges and prices to help maintain sales momentum in Q2 and into the start of summer.”