The majority of UK retailers have published their trading data covering the Christmas period. Christmas trading is a crucial time for the retail sector as it makes up a large proportion of revenue for the year.
Despite the rising number of omicron cases and the increasing number of supply chain challenges, this year’s Christmas grocery sales hit £11.7 billion over the month of December. This was only 0.2% lower than the record-breaking grocery sales in 2020.
Key grocery trends this year
- Spending on traditional Christmas dinner items was broadly similar to last year.
- Spending on more indulgent items saw an increase. Sales of sweet treat items such as Christmas chocolates reached £61m, a 21% increase compared to last year.
- Rising prices pushed up shopping budgets with grocery price inflation reaching 3.5% in December, adding nearly £15 to shoppers’ average monthly grocery bill.
- Ahead of Veganuary, plant-based foods increased in popularity with sales of chilled vegetarian ranges increasing by 6% and frozen equivalents increasing by 4% compared to last year.
- Despite rising cases of COVID-19 shoppers returned to shopping instore during the festive period, online sales fell by 3.7% in December and instore visits hit their highest since March 2020.
- Sprout sales were in decline by 3% (sales volume). However, they were served up in December by almost half of all UK households.
Following record-breaking grocery sales in 2020 most retailers struggled to achieve year-on-year sales growth over the Christmas period.
According to Kantar data, the only retailers to achieve year-on-year grocery sales value growth in the four weeks up to Christmas were M&S, Lidl, Aldi and Ocado.
M&S lead the way with an increase in retail grocery sales by 7.6% (sales value) compared to last year.
To understand in more detail what is happening in the UK food retail market, we have looked at each of the individual retailers’ performances.
In 2021 the NFU’s Food Chain team had over 60 meetings with businesses in the retail and foodservice sectors.
NFU Food Business Relationships Advisor Annabel James said: "This Christmas saw a number of challenges including the development of the omicron variant and increasing supply chain issues.
"Although some retailers struggled to achieve year-on-year growth, it was good to see the majority of retailers increase sales compared to pre-pandemic levels.
"In 2021 the NFU’s Food Chain team had over 60 meetings with businesses in the retail and foodservice sectors. Over the next year the NFU will continue to work closely with retailers to understand their plans for the upcoming year and discuss key supply chain issues on behalf of members."
The below retailers have not yet published results. However, we have outlined the information we do know to date. We will be updating this page with further information as more retailers publish their financial results over the coming weeks.
The retailer struggled to achieve year-on-year growth during the four weeks up to Christmas. Sales were back by 4.3% in terms of sales value in comparison to last year.
Co-op showed the highest decline in sales in the four weeks up to Christmas. Grocery sales were back by 8.5% (sales value) compared to the same period last year.
Asda also failed to achieve year-on-year sales growth. Kantar data shows sales value was back by 1.1% compared to last year.
During the four weeks up to Christmas, Waitrose was another retailer who failed to achieve year-on-year sales growth, with sales value back by 1.1% compared to last year.