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    Festive food, fizz top shopping list as Brits cut down on gifts, eating out

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    Supermarkets in the UK and Europe are offering more own-brand festive food from roast duck to truffle crackers as cash-strapped families spend on Christmas meals at home while cutting down on gifts and eating out.

    Festive meals are being prioritised as inflation forces households to adjust their budgets, executives and market analysts say. For some grocers, it’s a chance to upsell to consumers that can afford to splash out during the holidays.

    “The trend on groceries is strong,” Simon Roberts, CEO of Sainsbury’s, Britain’s second biggest grocer, told Reuters last month. “We’re set for a strong food Christmas.”

    Sainsbury’s has broadened its own-brand “Taste the Difference” premium food range, adding 170 new Christmas food products including a ready meal for four of duck, potatoes and cranberry sauce for £28, and canapés like mini smoked salmon terrine slices for £3.75.

    Britons expect to spend around £105 more on Christmas this year than in 2022, according to Barclays research, with festive food and drink expected to be the largest contributor – rising by an average of almost £26.

    UK market leader Tesco has bought more turkeys than last year, CEO Ken Murphy said, as it expects people will go out less and spend more time at home with friends and family.

    “I am doing a lot of hosting in the next couple of weeks, and we do prefer to do stuff at home – it’s just more relaxing,” said Robyn Asher, 55, as she shopped in a Sainsbury’s supermarket in East Dulwich, London.

    “You can drink much nicer wine at home, because the mark-up is way too much in restaurants,” she added. In her trolley were five bottles of wine and one of champagne for her family’s Christmas celebrations, to take advantage of the supermarket’s offer of 25 per cent off for six bottles.

    James Simpson, managing director of champagne producer Pol Roger, said although champagne sales growth will likely slow overall in 2023, he anticipated strong sales over Christmas when even thrifty consumers tend to splash out and treat themselves.

    Britons have bought 3.9 million litres of champagne this year, down nine per cent from last year, according to Kantar data on the 52 weeks ending Nov 26.

    In France, shoppers aim to cut their overall Christmas spending this year, with the average budget down by €19 compared to 2022 according to a survey by Cofidis and CSA Research. They aim to cut their spending the most on gifts.

    Supermarket chain Carrefour is trying to attract shoppers with low prices like a €0.99 chocolate advent calendar, among 60 new own-brand Christmas food products the retailer has introduced this year.

    Supermarkets have increased their range of alternatives to branded foods as a large majority (78 per cent) of consumers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, across income groups, say they are switching to cheaper products or shopping at lower-priced retailers, according to McKinsey research.

    Polish supermarket chain Biedronka JMT.LS said its range of own-brand chocolates and sweets including gingerbread biscuits is at least 20 per cent cheaper than big-brand alternatives.

    Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn said its premium “AH Excellent” range has 200 holiday products this year, more than in 2022.

    In Portugal, supermarket Pingo Doce has launched new items in its “Iguarias” (delicacies) range including a meat, chestnut and vegetable puff pastry starter for €5.49 and truffle crackers for €1.99.

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