Belfast Telegraph

Christmas dinner costs 16% more this year because of blame inflation and Brexit

 

By Claire McNeilly

Forget the trimmings - because Christmas dinner is going to set you back a small fortune this year.

New data from Good Housekeeping's annual yuletide survey has revealed a 16% hike in the price of the cheapest set-piece festive meal for eight people, rising from £19.82 to £23.53.

That means a Christmas meal - which includes 11 ingredients from turkey to fresh vegetables and cranberry sauce - has increased from £2.48 a head to £2.94 over the last 12 months.

But the bad news is those figures could rise further over the coming weeks as grocery inflation recently hit 3.6%, representing its highest level since 2013, according to quarterly data from Kantar Worldpanel.

Good Housekeeping surveyed the cost of a Christmas goods across 10 of the UK's biggest food stores, although three of them (Waitrose, Morrisons and Aldi) do not have retail outlets in Northern Ireland.

The shopping list comprised of a whole turkey weighing at least 3.5kg, at least 880g each of potatoes, sprouts, carrots and parsnips, as well as stuffing mix, a jar of cranberry sauce, at least 900g of Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, at least eight mince pies and, finally, a jar of brandy butter.

It found that nine of the 11 cheapest items cost more than last year, including turkey, which is now £8.99 from last year's £8, and sage and onion stuffing mix, which has increased from 30p to 34p.

Good Housekeeping's consumer director Caroline Bloor said that both last year's EU referendum and inflation have had a negative effect on the cost of Christmas staples.

She added: "There's been a significant rise in food prices across the board over the last year as a result of the weakening of the pound following the Brexit vote. Add to this inflation being stuck at a five-year high and it's no surprise to see the Christmas grocery bill has also increased."

The magazine revealed the collective cost of Christmas essentials in Lidl (£25.63), Aldi (£25.68), Iceland (£28.12), Tesco (£28.48), Asda (£31.17), Co-op (£33.48), Morrisons (£36.23), Sainsbury's (36.59), M&S (£38.43) and Waitrose (£41.47).

For consumers in Northern Ireland, Lidl trounced the competition as the cheapest supermarket when it comes to the entire list on one place, with dinner for eight coming in at £25.53.

Food prices had been falling in recent years as the big supermarket retailers responded to the rise of the German discounters with aggressive price cutting.

But the baskets from nine of the 10 supermarkets in the survey are more expensive than last year, with Iceland having increased prices by more than 13%.

Marks & Spencer is the only supermarket whose basket is cheaper, 20% less at £38.43, but still the second most expensive.

This year's results indicates the general increase has been driven by a big rise in the cost of fresh vegetables, specifically potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips.

The cheapest whole turkeys for those who shop around come from Aldi and Lidl at £8.99, whereas bargain hunters could've got one from Asda for £8 last year.

The least expensive iced top cakes were £3.99 from both Lidl and Aldi. Last year the cheapest option was £3 from Iceland. Tesco offers the cheapest large Christmas pudding at £3, which is below the £3.49 options from Lidl and Aldi a year ago.

The best value mince pies are £1.58 from Aldi for two packs of six. Ms Bloor said that as bargains are thin on the ground this festive season, consumers should shop around in order to save money.

"A turkey will usually be your biggest outlay, so if you can find quality and value, you'll be off to a great start," she said.

"Now is not the time for loyalty - swapping supermarkets is the best way to save."

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