Analysts predict £7bn UK grocery spree in Christmas run-up

By Niamh Michail contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/CharlieAJA
© GettyImages/CharlieAJA

Related tags: Retailers

UK shoppers are set to spend £7 billion (€7.8bn) on food and drink in the next two weeks, according to analysts.

According to market research company Nielsen, supermarkets have seen a slow start to the festive season. It attributes this to consumer concerns about personal finances: according to a global consumer confidence survey it conducted in collaboration with The Conference Board last month, 43% of respondents said it was not a good time to spend money.

However, these financial concerns were reserved for “big ticket items​”, Nielsen said, and retailers could find comfort in the fact that people are “more than willing​” to spend on food and drink and it predicts sales of £7 billion (€7.8bn) in the festive run-up.

Unsurprisingly, indulgent categories perform well in the Christmas period. According to Nielsen’s market Scantrack, alcoholic drinks such as gin, pre-mixed beverages and lower alcohol beers all registered strong growth, as well as salty snacks and hampers.  

The Nielsen scanning service measures total store sales every week by SKU for 20,000 shops across all food and drink trade channels in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), covering a total market value of £145bn (€161bn) per annum.

Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight, Mike Watkins, said the sector had so far seen “a slow start to Christmas​”, in particular for the grocery multiples.

The good news is that we still expect shoppers to spend on seasonal treats and indulgences as well as premium food and drink when shopping and to enjoy the festive season with family and friends,” ​Watkins added. “This will provide some much-needed sales momentum in particular for the big supermarkets."

“Retailers have been putting a real focus on increasing the frequency of visits that shoppers make to stores. The ‘little and often’ shopping trend is just as important at Christmas and, as shoppers tend to expand their store repertoire at this time of year, now is the time for retailers to take the opportunity in the lead up to the holidays to make sure they’ve got all the festive favourites stocked alongside attractive offers.”

Wal-Mart-owned Asda was the fastest growing store (+1.5%) in terms of retailer performance when comparing the 12 weeks before 1 December this year to last year.

Morrison’s growth was flat at 0% while Tesco and Sainsbury’s decreased slightly (-0.1% and -0.4% respectively). 

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