Christmas sales flop for UK’s supermarkets

Tim Wallace
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SUPERMARKETS’ sales were flat on the year over the Christmas period, as the retail giants received little benefit from the economic recovery, industry data showed yesterday.

By contrast, consumers were happy to shop elsewhere over the festive season – Black Friday was the biggest shopping day ever, according to numbers from Barclaycard.

Supermarket grocery sales over the six weeks to Christmas fell by 0.2 per cent on the year to £4.07bn.

Numbers from analysts at data firm IRI show the retailers would have been worried about an even worse performance in late November and early December.

Compared with the previous year, the first two weeks of the period saw sales fall by 2.5 per cent. In the middle fortnight of the six-week period, sales were down 1.2 per cent.

It was only in the final two weeks that sales really picked up, with customers spending £1.73bn just before Christmas – up 2.1 per cent on the year.

Consumption of the classic Christmas dinner was disappointing, the data showed, with poultry sales down 5.2 per cent.

Gammon, beef and bacon were also weak, with sales down 4.1 per cent.

Frozen desserts and cream also slumped, down 6.9 per cent.

However, sales of crackers, cards, lights, wraps, trees and decorations jumped by 5.8 per cent on the year.

Wine and champagne sales were flat, while liqueur and spirits sales edged up 2.1 per cent.

But despite those disappointing figures, shoppers splashed out on good deals elsewhere.

Overall spending on Black Friday rocketed 18 per cent on the year, with online spending up 38 per cent, according to Barclaycard.

Department stores were particular beneficiaries, with spending up 144 per cent.

Clothing sales online almost doubled, rising by 98 per cent on the year.

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