LONDON: New figures show that the UK’s retail sector enjoyed a lucrative Christmas this year, as the average household spent a record £1,054 on groceries in the three months leading up to 31st December.

This is according to Kantar Worldpanel, whose figures showed that despite macroeconomic worries and the consequent tightening of household budgets, consumers were still willing to trade up to more expensive options for the festive season.

Certain increases stand out. A record amount of £469 million was spent on retailers’ premium own label lines in December alone. “Overall supermarket sales increased in value by 3.8%,” explained Fraser McKevitt, Head of Retail and Consumer Insight at Kantar Worldpanel.

Key days were crucial to the increased spend, McKevitt continued. “Shoppers parted with £747 million on 22 December alone, making the Friday before Christmas the busiest shopping day ever recorded.”

Mince pie sales rose by 13.2% year on year, followed by alcohol sales which grew by 5.1%. “Shoppers are splashing out despite fewer promotions to tempt them”, McKevitt added, “Only 36% of spending was on items on offer this year – the lowest level of promotional activity at Christmas since 2009.”

Among the supermarkets, Aldi and Lidl, both known for their German-style discount offers, jointly occupied the place for the UK’s fastest growing supermarkets with 16.8% sales growth year on year. For discounters, Christmas can be a difficult time as consumers return to the supermarkets they know in search of quality, but Aldi and Lidl managed to attract nearly one million extra households during the past three months.

Of the big four supermarkets, Tesco grew fastest in the period studied, with sales rising 3.1%. As a result of Christmas Day falling on a Monday, convenience stores such as Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s local were able to benefit from Sunday trading restrictions for larger supermarkets.

Meanwhile, online outlets saw their biggest ever Christmas with a total increase of 4.9%. Ocado increased its sales by 8.4% to gain 1.3% of the total grocery market.

Sourced from Kantar Worldpanel; additional content by WARC staff