The balance of power is shifting in the beverage category at Harrods, with hot chocolate’s strong double-digit sales growth now outstripping that of pre-packed black tea and coffee. New trends and product innovation are the driving force behind this trend, the upmarket retailer claims.

“Hot chocolate tended to be regarded as an indulgent treat, but more and more customers are introducing it into their routine, as different flavours are introduced and the quality on offer only continues to improve,” said Harrods tea and coffee buyer Clare Welton.

“Whilst market trends are showing growth in hot chocolate and indeed malted drinks, I think the size of growth we’ve experienced is exceptional, driven by our innovation in the category.”

Salted caramel is one of the flavoured options boosting hot chocolate’s sales. Welton said introducing the Harrods Couverture range, with its higher cocoa content, has also helped the category’s popularity.

The impressive sales growth has been consistent over the last year, with seasonal peaks during Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas. And it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, with Harrods expecting overseas travellers visiting this summer to buy hot chocolate products as gifts to take home.

But hot chocolate is not the only hot beverage gaining ground at Harrods, with green teas, fruit and herbal infusions and loose coffee all showing significant sales growth, though not to the same extent as hot chocolate.

“I think people’s tastes are changing and they are becoming more adventurous in their tea choices and trying options they perceive as being healthier, like green tea,” said Welton. “The more innovative options on the market today are also attracting a younger demographic into the hot drinks category.”

Yet shoppers are by no means abandoning traditional caffeinated hot beverages just yet, with tea and coffee still the main drivers of Harrod’s hot business trade.“I’m not convinced that people are actively choosing to move from caffeine,” Welton said. Sales of decaffeinated options are still a small percentage of our total tea and coffee business and they haven’t shown any significant growth.”