Booths enjoyed “record” Christmas sales as demand for a “very traditional British Christmas” led to larger customer volumes and an increase in basket spend.
Like-for-like sales grew 8.7% in the crucial three-week period to 6 January, with sales in the seven-day Christmas week rising 8.3% on the previous year – a record for the regional supermarket. Booths credited the year-on-year growth to higher customer numbers, which increased volumes across its 27 stores.
In a year in which Booths launched a bumper £220 Christmas dinner bundle, Christmas staples were among the bestselling lines, with turkey and poultry sales up 10.6%. Pigs in blanket sales rose by 9.7%, while smoked salmon was up 34%.
Sales of Booths’ traditional mince pies grew by 16%, in what was a trend counter to the sector. Kantar data suggested volumes of mince pies fell 4% across the sector, though Sainsbury’s also reported a record demand for the product.
Growth wasn’t just limited to spend on groceries: sales across Booths’ cafés grew by 37% following the launch of a new upmarket 1847 café concept in two stores. Booths has also invested in expanding its hot food to go concepts, and sales of its festive baguette – a hot turkey, stuffing & cranberry sandwich – rose by 28%.
Customers appeared to be preparing for Christmas earlier, with Booths’ sales in the 12 weeks before Christmas rising 6.3%. Customers’ average basket size also increased over the festive break, Booths said, adding that sales were also helped by its annual complimentary Booths Christmas Book of recipes, products and cooking tips.
“Everyone at Booths, alongside our supplier partners, has contributed to delivering a great Christmas for our customers and this is reflected in a set of strong trading results,” said Booths MD Nigel Murray.
“We strive to deliver the very best food and drink for our customers, and we can be extremely proud of what we achieved this year. The quality of our offer was the best yet and as ever was served up with the warmest of northern welcomes.”
The results build on what was a year of consolidation for Booths, with annual results in the year to 1 April 2023 – its latest report – showing sales fell 3.2%. However, a significant portion of the fall was accounted for by a non-comparable 53rd trading week the previous year, Booths said.
The retailer is in the middle of a wider modernisation of its core system IT and loyalty proposition, set to be completed by April 2025. It is also set to open a new cold chain storage facility this month, as part of a concurrent overhaul of its logistics and supply chain infrastructure.