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    Shoppers to spend £5 billion in run-up to Christmas: NIQ

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    Sales of general merchandise at UK supermarkets fell 7 per cent on the year in the four weeks to 2 December as shoppers looked to save money, delaying spending to take advantage of seasonal grocery promotions before Christmas, researcher NIQ said.

    NIQ said UK shoppers were likely to spend up to £5 billion over the seven days to Dec, which, reflecting inflation, would be the biggest ever week for food sales. Food price inflation was running at 7.8 per cent in November, down from 8.8 per cent in October, according to the researcher.

    Mike Watkins, NIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight said, “The key for retailers is to get the basics right to dish up a successful Christmas; low price, quality, and availability are the top drivers that are important to shoppers when planning where to do their main Christmas grocery shop.”

    It said total sales growth at UK supermarkets slowed to 6.8 per cent over the same period from 8.7 per cent in last month’s report. Sales on a volume basis, or the number of items sold, were also weaker, down 0.9 per cent.

    The NIQ data going into December provides the most up-to-date snapshot of UK consumer behaviour. In value terms it said meat and poultry and confectionery were the fastest growing categories with sales up 10.1 per cent and 10.2 per cent respectively.

    Echoing data from rival market researcher Kantar last week, NIQ said sales made on promotion rose to 25 per cent, the highest level since February 2020.

    Watkins said, “We know that almost three-fourths of households think retailer promotions are important when choosing where to make their grocery shop at Christmas.

    “NIQ research also shows that loyalty points play a significant role in helping shoppers save money over the festive period with over half of shoppers look for personalised loyalty card prices and promotions and 38 per cent cash in loyalty points saved throughout the year.”

    Discounters Lidl and Aldi were again the strongest performers over the 12 weeks to 2 December, with sales up 17.3 per cent and 14.3 per cent respectively. Marks & Spencer was next with sales growth of 12.8 per cent, followed by Ocado on 11.7 per cent, Sainsbury’s on 9.5 per cent and market leader Tesco on 7.8 per cent.

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