Britons spent £160 million less on Easter than in 2019 but alcohol sales for the bank holiday weekend surged 29%.

Nielsen data for the weekend ending April 11, shows grocery sales increased 8.9% overall compared to the same week in 2019. Easter sales declined but sales of alcohol grew 29% and mixers were up 60%.

The data also shows that while consumers chose to tone down their Easter celebrations during the Government’s imposed lockdown measures, they still enjoyed spending time in the sunshine. Sales of bulbs and seeds were up 128% and hayfever medication was up 139%, “an indicator that many were enjoying the beautiful weather” according to Nielsen.

This was also reflected in sales of alcohol with the key drivers in the category coming from drinks many might have previously enjoyed in a pub garden, such as cider (up 77%), stout (up 73%) and lager (67%), while mixers grew 60%.

The data also shows that for the week ending April 11, UK shoppers spent £275 million more than in the previous week.

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions have led to an unusual Easter bank holiday weekend, as people across the country are secluded from the family and friends they might usually have celebrated with.

“However, it’s clear that UK consumers were still looking to enjoy the warm weather and bank holiday weekend, resulting in a surge in alcohol sales and impulse purchasing to enjoy in their homes or gardens.

“Looking ahead, we can expect weekly growths to begin to stabilise in a few weeks, though it’s evident that purchasing at supermarkets here in the UK and across Europe will be affected by how soon bars, restaurants and cafes reopen, and the extent to which consumers flock back to them.”