Christmas food and drink spend to reach £19bn

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

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Festive finance: Food and drink spending is expected to reach £19bn this Christmas and New Year
Festive finance: Food and drink spending is expected to reach £19bn this Christmas and New Year
UK festive shoppers are predicted to spend £19bn on food and drink over the Christmas and New Year period, says grocery think tank IGD.

Seasonal grocery spending this year is expected to be up by 3.9%, compared with the £18.3bn taken at the tills in the same period of 2012/2013.

This year, cash-strapped consumers are willing to dedicate more time this Christmas to finding the best deals and best quality products, according to IGD ShopperVista research.

More than half (58% of) shoppers told researchers that they planned to shop around more to locate the best deals compared with last year.

Planned to shop around more

Also nearly half (41%) planned to shop actively to secure the best quality products.

Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive, IGD, said improving news about the economy had helped to restore a little consumer confidence.

“While people remain cautious, the trickle of recent positive economic news is helping to improve confidence,” she​ said. “Seven-out-of-10 (72% of) shoppers plan to spend more or about the same on their groceries this Christmas compared with last year. This is up from 64% who said the same in 2011.”

The IGD boss said many retailers had invested heavily throughout the year to improve the shopping experience and boost footfall in their shops. “We’ve seen more imaginative merchandising, greater use of fresh food counters and an increase in ‘click and collect’ services, which can help time-pressed festive shoppers to order their groceries online and collect at a time convenient to them.”​        

Meanwhile, hard food discounters – particularly Aldi and Lidl – were likely to benefit from the increase in effort dedicated to grocery shopping.

Discount supermarkets

More than a third (38% of) shoppers planned to use discount supermarkets more this festive period than last year.

Families with children under five particularly intended to use discounters. Over half (53%) of such families said they would prioritise shopping at discount retailers.

“The onset of the recession fundamentally changed our grocery shopping habits, as we became prepared to put more effort into buying our groceries,”​ said Denney-Finch. “And shoppers tell us they’re willing to spend more time this Christmas to get the best deals and secure the best quality.

“Food discounters, in particular, look to benefit this Christmas from our increased promiscuity towards grocery shopping. They’ve also become more appealing to shoppers through effectively communicating their quality and value for money.”

Denney-Finch said many consumers had now “got the taste for discounters”,​ many shoppers plan to continue shopping with them. Nearly seven-out-of-10 (68% of) consumers who currently shop at discount stores said they would continue to shop there even if their personal finances improve.

But discounters were likely to maintain a relatively modest share of the retail market. “While growing at a phenomenal rate, discounters will still only account for 9% of the total UK food and grocery market in five years. So superstores and hypermarkets will still be where most money is spent,”​ said Denney-Finch.

Meanwhile, consumer watchdog Which? accused supermarkets yesterday (November 19) of offering shoppers "dodgy deals and mis-leading multi-buys".

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