Indies and symbol groups see decrease in sales over December

Retailers saw a 10.5% decrease in total consumer spending change year-on-year

Symbol groups and independent retailers found it challenging to secure year-on-year growth over the Christmas period, following last year’s high, according to the latest figures from Kantar.

Retailers saw a 10.5% decrease in total consumer spending change year-on-year, but saw 5% sales growth compared with two years ago.

However, every major grocer saw an increase in sales compared with the final 12 weeks of 2019.

Take-home grocery sales reached £31.7 billion over the 12 weeks to 26 December 2021. Although down by 3.0% compared with 2020, spending remains higher than it was pre-pandemic and sales were 8.0% stronger than in 2019.  

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Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar on the spending figures from this year, he said: “This lofty spend figure is down just 0.2% on record 2020 sales when several areas faced restrictions and the data suggests that while there weren’t formal rules in place across the UK this year, many people celebrated at home again due to Omicron.

“We can really see just how much spending accelerated in December compared with earlier in the year by looking at the average trend during March to November when sales were down by 2.5% against 2020”, he added.

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McKevitt added: “Food and drink spend peaked two days before Christmas. The real driver of bumper sales on 23 December wasn’t online though, as we saw the largest number of in-store visits since March 2020 this month. Shoppers clearly trusted that supermarket shelves would remain well stocked and they didn’t feel the need to rush out much earlier to get their favourite festive treats.”

Despite rising COVID-19 case numbers, online sales fell in December by 3.7% against 2020 and accounted for 12.2% of sales.

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