Belfast Telegraph

Christmas dinner in Northern Ireland dearest in UK

By Joanne Sweeney

Bah humbug! Even Christmas dinner in Northern Ireland costs more than anywhere else in the UK.

While Good Housekeeping has announced that the cost of a festive feast is cheaper this year than last, the absence of some supermarket giants here - such as Morrison and Aldi - makes dinner here 59p more expensive.

It might not sound like much, but every little helps.

The magazine's sixth annual survey found the cheapest Christmas basket is down 3% on last year.

It surveyed 10 of the top grocery retailers and found that by shopping around, you could cook a traditional dinner with all the trimmings for £21.31 or £2.66 per head.

That was 7p cheaper than last year's shopping basket.

However, rather than using Aldi fresh carrots and spouts, the cost here rose to £21.90 and £2.73 per head by using 1kg of Asda carrots at 57p and 1kg of Iceland sprouts at £1 instead.

The survey was based on a traditional dinner for eight people, with pudding, mince pies and cake to follow.

There was good news for canny shoppers here as Iceland came out with the lowest bill of £27.84 for a one-stop shop.

Last year's winner, Lidl, slipped into second place with a cost of £28.13 but its Braemour turkey came out the best priced at £9.99.

Unsurprisingly, the most expensive one-stop shop for Christmas dinner at £47.04 was at Marks & Spencer which appeals mainly to more affluent customers.

Sainsbury's Basic items proved great value - its Christmas pudding, mince puffs and large iced Christmas cake were the cheapest in the survey.

The one-stop basket prices for the seven available supermarkets in Northern Ireland were: Iceland, £27.84, Lidl £28.13, Asda £32.47, Tesco £32.98, Sainsbury's £33.32, the Co-op £40.49 and M&S £47.04.

The effects of the recession and competition between the large supermarket chains as they try to provide better value to retain customers has created a downward pressure on the total annual costs.

The price per head in 2009 was £3.

Good Housekeeping Consumer Director Caroline Bloor said: "It's a constant struggle for many to keep family food bills under control, but the current battle between the traditional supermarkets and the discounters is pulling prices down for everyone - and will continue to do so."

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