Christmas grocery spending hits new high

grocery Topside Beef Christmas Lunch incorporating stuffing balls, glazed carrots, roasted potatoes, pigs in a blanket and Brussels sprouts
UK households spent more than £12bn on grocery shopping over Christmas. Photo: Getty

Grocery sales hit over £12bn in the month leading up to Christmas Day ⁠2022 — the highest amount on record.

Grocery price inflation now stands at 14.4%, down slightly from 14.6% in November, according to market research firm Kantar. This is the second month in a row that grocery price inflation has fallen.

Kantar's Fraser McKevitt said the figures suggested the "worst has now passed", although he added that it remained a "painfully high figure at the current rate, impacting how and what we buy at the shops".

The total value of sales rose because of the increasing cost of food and drink, rather than because people are spending more.

Overall, shoppers spent an extra £1.1bn in December compared to the year before, driven higher by a boom in demand for cold and flu medicines.

Read more: Food price inflation hits new high of 13.3%

The amount of money spent on mince pies climbed by nearly a fifth in December, despite the volume of sales barely increasing at all. People also spent 16% more on Christmas puddings, but the only 6% more in terms of volume.

Sales of stores’ own brands surged by 13.3% in December, compared with a 4.7% rise in branded lines.

Many retailers also increased their ranges of premium own-label products over Christmas, with sales of those lines growing by 10.2% and hitting more than £700m in total for the first time.

Tesco’s Finest (TSCO.L) range came out on top in terms of sales, while Aldi and Lidl enjoyed significant growth in their premium own-labels.

Meanwhile, the "big four" supermarkets continued to dominate spending for UK shoppers, with Tesco, Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L), Asda and Morrisons accounting for more than two-thirds of all spending.

However, Aldi held on to its title of fastest-growing grocer, enjoying a 27% surge in year-on-year sales and taking its share of the market to 9.1%, from 7.7% this time last year.

Read more: Morrisons cuts prices on 130 products as cost of living bites

McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “Monthly grocery sales were a whopping £1.1bn higher in December versus last year, breaching the £12bn mark for the first time.

“Value sales are up significantly but grocery price inflation is the real driving factor behind this, rather than increased purchasing.

“This is the second month in a row that grocery price inflation has fallen, raising hopes that the worst has now passed.

“However, it’s still a painfully high figure at the current rate, impacting how and what we buy at the shops.”

Watch: Food inflation 'hit record high' ahead of Christmas led by fresh produce