Christmas is coming to Britain’s supermarkets - but is still taking its time getting here.
Last week, The Grocer revealed sales of many Christmas products were behind 2013 levels, according to IRI data.
Updated figures - for the two weeks ending 6 December - show some improvement, with total value sales across 12 key festive product categories down 1.6% year on year compared with the 2.5% deficit recorded last week. Two categories that were down year on year but are now up on last year’s figures are liqueur & spirits (+4.3%) and speciality cheese (+0.4%). Some categories have performed even worse, however, with sales of beer & lager down 4.2% versus 1.6% a week ago.
“Christmas sales are still making a slightly tired start to the festive period,” said IRI strategic insight director Tim Eales. “Sales are still down relative to last year but the rate of decline has lessened.”
Industry insiders have blamed the slow start on a range of factors in addition to consumers staring their festive shopping later than usual. These include spend switching to the discounters - who are not included in the IRI data - and the effect of competition between retailers on prices.
In terms of specific products, among the festive favourites selling better than last week but still behind last year are Brussels sprouts (-18.9%), satsumas (-3.8%), mince pies (-4.7%) and Champagne (-7.9%).
But Brits have developed a strong appetite for turkey in the past seven days, with sales of whole birds - which were down 6.1% last week - now up 13% year on year. Other products performing ahead of last year’s figures are after-dinner confectionery (+10.7%) and dates (+15.3%).