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‘Record’ Christmas sales for supermarkets aided by promotions | Business News

Price cuts to lure shoppers helped supermarkets rake in record revenues ahead of Christmas, according to industry data.

Kantar Worldpanel, which tracks sales and prices among chains, said £13.7bn passed through tills or via websites over the four weeks to 24 December.

It took average household grocery spending to an all-time high of £477 across the month, the report said, an increase of £28 on 2022.

The research noted a 2% rise in sales volumes – a statistic that will be particularly welcomed by chains.

It said that almost a third of all spending over the four-week period was made on items with some kind of offer, up by more than £820m on the same period in 2022.

Sales by value were up 7%.

That reflected, Kantar said, the continuing influence of grocery inflation.

That declined substantially to an annual rate of 6.7% last month from 9.1% seen in November, largely due to the high volume of promotions.

There is a risk that grocery inflation ticks up slightly this month.

That is because supermarkets dramatically reversed many Christmas discounts in January last year, a factor that pushed Kantar’s inflation measure to a then record high.

Chains’ loyalty schemes and supplier pricing is currently the subject of an inquiry by the Competition and Markets Authority.

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CMA targets supermarket loyalty schemes and supplier prices

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “The rate of inflation is coming down at the fastest pace we have ever recorded, but consumers are still facing pretty hefty pressures on their budgets.

“Retailers were clearly working hard during the festive period to offer best value and win over shoppers, and promotions were central to their strategy.”

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Currys boss slams government over retail costs

Kantar, which had warned in advance of Christmas of a slight rise in the cost of a traditional dinner, said demand was strong for most staples but some items did buck the trend.

Volumes of parsnips, sprouts and potatoes were up 12%, 9% and 8% respectively, and chilled gravy up by 11%.

Festive meats including pigs in blankets, sausages, hams and turkeys were also up by 6% collectively.

However, mince pie and Christmas pudding volumes were down by 4% and 7% respectively.

While all the established chains saw sales rise, Kantar reported that Sainsbury’s outperformed in terms of growth.

Discounters Lidl and Aldi, which have already claimed record sales, enjoyed their highest ever market shares for the Christmas period.

Economy shrugs off strikes to return to growth, aided by shopping and nights out | Business News

The UK economy shrugged off the impact of strikes to return to growth in April, according to official figures charting a pick-up in spending at the shops and in bars and restaurants.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) measured growth of 0.2% following a contraction of 0.3% in the previous month.

It reported growth over the three months to April was 0.1%.

ONS director of economic statistics, Darren Morgan, said of the performance: “GDP (gross domestic product) bounced back after a weak March.

“Bars and pubs had a comparatively strong April while car sales rebounded and education partially recovered from the effect of the previous month’s strikes.

“These were partially offset by falls in health, which was affected by the junior doctors’ strikes, along with falls in computer manufacturing and the often-erratic pharmaceuticals industry.

“House builders and estate agents also had a poor month.

“Over the last three months as a whole the economy grew a little, driven largely by the construction industries.

“The services sector dragged growth downwards, partly due to the impact of public sector strikes.”

The ONS update follows hot on the heels of upgrades in recent weeks to UK economic expectations by key international bodies such as the IMF and OECD.

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OECD chief explains high UK inflation

Both had initially predicted a recession during 2023.

However, there is no cause for celebration as the growth being widely talked for this year represents just a few tenths of a per cent all considered.

Confidence to spend and invest is being dented heavily by high inflation.

The Bank of England is widely tipped to act further on the pace of rising prices by imposing a further interest rate hike next week.

It is worried that so-called core inflation, which strips out volatile elements such as energy and food, remains stubbornly high.

Rate-setters would have also been concerned by wage data revealed on Tuesday that showed a sharp rise, building on worries that wage settlements to combat the impact of inflation will just intensify the UK’s price pressures.

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Leap in basic wage growth

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said of the ONS economic data: “We are growing the economy, with the IMF saying that from 2025 we will grow faster than Germany, France and Italy.

“But high growth needs low inflation, so we must stick relentlessly to our plan to halve the rate this year to protect family budgets.”

Read more:
‘On me personally’ if inflation isn’t halved, says Rishi Sunak
Wage growth is good news for workers, but not necessarily the economy – analysis

His Labour shadow, Rachel Reeves, responded: “Labour wants to match the ambition of the British people – while the Tories would rather continue down a path of managed decline of low growth and high taxes.

“Despite our country’s huge potential and promise, today is another day in the dismal low growth record book of this Conservative government.

“The facts remain that families are feeling worse off, facing a soaring Tory mortgage penalty and we’re lagging behind on the global stage.

“Labour’s mission to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7 will make families across every part of our country better off.”