Alcohol is a star performer in festive grocery sales

Beers, wines and spirits and soft drinks, were two of the star performing categories in grocery over the festive period, despite shoppers spending less overall in supermarkets over Christmas.

BWS sales grew by 3.8% and soft drinks grew 5.8% over the 12 weeks leading up to Christmas, according to the latest Nielsen data. Other strong performing categories were confectionery (up 5.5%) and crisps and snacks (up 5.3%), while packaged grocery dropped by -1.1% and meat/fish/poultry saw sales decline by -3.4%.

Shoppers visited supermarkets more frequently this Christmas, according to the data, but sales growth slowed to just 1.8% in the last four weeks, which was almost half of the growth (3.7%) enjoyed at the same time last year.

The discounters continued to lead the way over the 12 weeks with the strongest performances recorded by both Lidl and Aldi. The former saw sales grow by 13.6% and the latter 11.7%, while in comparison Waitrose, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s all recorded a slight drop in sales over the period.

The only other retailers to post any significant growth were the Co-op (up 2.6%) and Iceland (up 3.5%), proving that convenience and value were top of the agenda for consumers last Christmas.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight, said: “Growth slowed this Christmas in comparison to last. We can attribute this to several factors: consumer grocery shopping habits are changing, with shoppers now opting to spend less on doing one ‘big shop’, instead preferring more frequent, smaller trips to the supermarket, spreading the cost across multiple retailers to increase choice.

“Moreover, with over half (57%) of consumers not confident about their finances, shoppers are more budget-conscious and the various promotions and price cuts are a response to help them manage their household budget. Finally, the incremental growth continues to come from the key categories of drinks, confectionery and snacks.

“It was a reasonable but not spectacular Christmas, indicative of how shoppers will now spread their Christmas spending across more retailers and different channels.”

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