Shoppers went for more convenient dinner options for Christmas 2021
Shoppers here shunned fresh turkeys for their Christmas Day feast in 2021, with sales of whole birds down one-third, a report has said.
As supermarkets fill their shelves with Easter eggs well ahead of the next major event in the shopping calendar, the latest grocery market report from Kantar shed light on what we were buying in the run-up to Christmas.
Sales of festive biscuits, and treats like chocolate wafers and Jaffa Cakes, were up, the research company said.
But its December report found shoppers were no longer embracing the challenge of cooking a whole turkey, going instead for more convenient cuts like a turkey crown.
Many even opted for a different meat altogether, Kantar said, with sales of beef across 2021 as a whole up 2.7%.
And with the option to dine out more freely available in the run-up to Christmas 2021, spending on groceries was down 8% in the 12 weeks before Christmas compared to the same period in 2020.
With people freer to drop in on family and friends over Christmas, compared to the stricter regime in place last year, sales of seasonal biscuits were up by nearly 7%.
Kantar said that across the year as a whole, we were spending 4.1% less in supermarkets compared to 2020, when intermittent lockdowns left us with no option but to spend more in supermarkets at a time when we were unable to eat out.
However, sales in supermarkets and convenience stores were 8.2% higher than 2019, demonstrating how the pandemic has been good for the grocery trade.
For symbol groups like Mace, Centra and Spar, the pandemic bounce appeared to have been shortlived.
Sales in such convenience stores in the 52 weeks leading up to Christmas were 14.8% lower than during 2020.
Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, said: “The latest 12 weeks shows an 8.0% decline in grocery market sales, as shoppers bought 6.9% fewer items and the number of trips to stores decreased by 5.2%.
"This reflects a more open Christmas this year, with people spending money in restaurants, bars, and pubs rather than buying all their food and drink at supermarkets.”
Tesco, which has around 50 stores here, remains Northern Ireland’s biggest grocer with a market share of 35.6%. Its sales were down 3.1% over the year.
Sainsbury’s, which has 14 stores, is the second-biggest grocer with market share of 17%, while Asda, with 17 stores, is in third place, with a 16% share.
But at 4.4%, Sainsbury’s year on year decline in sales was steeper than Asda, at 3.3%.
In fourth place, Lidl has market share of 7%, and with growth of 4.5%, it was the only big supermarket to gain sales over the years. Its growth contributed an additional £20.8m to its overall performance.
She added that the four largest supermarkets “either maintained or grew their market share this year, reflecting a sharp drop off in the use of symbols and independent stores since the height of the pandemic in 2020”.