The latest data from NielsenIQ has shown a fall in both volume and value for the BWS category, as consumers continue to exercise caution. The data, for the four weeks ending December 3, found that BWS saw both value (-1.5%) and volume (-3.6%) declines across multiple retailers.

NielsenIQ said this may be attributed to overlaps in terms of trade challenges and the beginning of Omicron reported in the UK.

“That being said, the World Cup has helped beer sales which are up 3.1% versus a year ago, which has led it to gain an additional 1% share of total BWS sales,” the report said.

Elsewhere, Total Till sales grew +7.6% in the four-week period, up from +5.3% recorded during the previous month.

This acceleration is largely a result of double-digit food inflation, NielsenIQ said, as UK shoppers remain cautious regarding the contents of their shopping baskets. According to the data, in the last four weeks, shoppers have focussed on core grocery essentials as they are mindful of discretionary Christmas spend. This has led to a lift in value growth for categories such as dairy (+13.9%), pet food (+12.5%), frozen food (+11.9%), soft drinks (+10%) and packaged grocery (+9.2%).   

According to a recent Christmas survey from the research firm, key factors for consumers when choosing their supermarket this year will be low prices (55%), quality (50%) and good stock availability (49%). Promotions will also have their role to play this Christmas with 43% of consumers saying that promotions are important.

“With double digit food inflation, shoppers will be spending more to buy less this Christmas but there are now a number of new coping strategies to help meet increased costs,” said Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight. “These include wasting less food, shopping little and more often as well as taking advantage of the many savings being offered by retailer loyalty schemes. However, it is what shoppers are putting into their baskets that is the most revealing. By trading down, for instance to private label, lower priced items or buying different pack sizes, a third of the increased price of the typical shopping basket for the savvy shopper can be saved.”

Watkins added that with the weather turning colder and seasonal spend increasing every week, if the current momentum is maintained, the “sales at the grocery multiples will be the highest yet – around £12.6 billion in the next four weeks, with the spend during Christmas week ending December 24, topping £4 billion for the first time”.

Even so, he said volume sales will fall by around 4% at the supermarkets this Christmas with discounters expected to exceed 19% market share for the first time.