Tuesday 5 January 2021 8:41 am

UK supermarket sales soar to record-breaking £11.7bn in December

UK supermarkets recorded their busiest ever month in December as grocery sales soared to £11.7bn amid bar and restaurant closures during the festive period. 

Morrisons was the strongest performer of the Big Four UK supermarkets, with sales jumping 13.1 per cent, followed by Tesco, which toasted a 11.1 per cent rise in sales.

Sainsbury’s recorded a 10.7 per cent year-on-year rise in sales, with Asda’s growth lagging behind its competitors at 7.8 per cent, according to research by Kantar.

Online grocery sales accounted for 12.6 per cent of total spend in the four weeks to 27 December, compared with 7.4 per cent last year, cementing the digital shopping trend that has boomed during the pandemic.

Meanwhile the latest data showed that Brits did their Christmas food shopping earlier this year due to changing tier restrictions and reports of delays at Dover, with 15m UK households hitting the supermarket on 21 December. 

Sales of traditional Christmas dinner staples were muted due to restrictions on family gatherings but cheese, chilled desserts and supermarket premium own label ranges performed strongly. 

Alcohol sales at UK supermarkets soared by £310m, with options to drink in pubs, bars and restaurants limited by the tier system. 

Kantar head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt said: “Whether we were able to spend it with all our loved ones or not, we had to find different and smaller ways to mark the festive period this year and we once again relied on supermarket staff up and down the country to feed our families and support our communities. 

“December is always an incredibly busy time for supermarkets, but take-home grocery shopping is usually supplemented by celebrations in restaurants, pubs and bars – with £4bn spent on food and drink, excluding alcohol, out of the home during the normal festive month. 

“This year, almost all those meals were eaten at home and retailers stepped up monumentally to meet the surge in demand.  Recognising this, a number of grocers took the unusual decision to close on Boxing Day and give their teams a well-earned break.”