The price of a Christmas dinner is more than 3% higher than last year, led by an increase in the price of frozen turkey, traditional puddings and sprouts.
The total cost of 10 key items for a family of four nudged up 3.4% to £27.48 as rising prices of some of the most expensive ingredients in the festive blow-out offset a fall in the price of basic vegetables including potatoes, carrots and parsnips and of cranberry sauce, analysts at Kantar found.
The price of frozen turkey is up 7% year on year, according to Kantar, as processors battle with increased labour and feed costs, while the price of Christmas puddings, sprouts and cauliflower increased 5% and gravy granules 3%. The price of carrots is down 13%, potatoes 5% and parsnips 6%, while cranberry sauce is 3% cheaper than in 2020.
Despite fears of a rise in drinks prices, the survey found that sparkling wine cost the same on average as last year.
Fraser McKevitt, the head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said the increase in the cost of a Christmas dinner closely echoed that of grocery prices as a whole in the four weeks to 28 November, with inflation hitting 3.2%, the highest level since June last year. Overall inflation was driven by price rises in savoury snacks, crisps and cat food.
However, McKevitt said consumers had yet to adapt their habits to deal with higher prices. “Habits we’d expect to see shift, like swapping branded products for own label or seeking out promotions, haven’t altered just yet,” he said.
Instead, families are looking to treat themselves with the supermarkets’ premium own-label ranges, such as Tesco Finest and Asda Extra Special, the fastest-growing ranges in store.
Overall, however, spending in supermarkets and local convenience stores is down almost 4% on last year. Every chain experienced a drop in sales, according to Kantar, compared with last year’s lockdowns across the UK when restaurants, cafes, pubs and many workplaces were closed.
Independent convenience stores were the biggest losers, with sales down more than 10%, while Iceland and Morrisons were the worst-performing of the big chains, with sales down 7.1%. Aldi and Lidl were the top performers with sales down just 1.1%, helping Lidl overtake the Co-op to become the UK’s sixth largest supermarket for the second time. It previously briefly moved ahead of the Co-op a year ago. More than £6 of every £100 spent in British grocery stores goes to Lidl.
McKevitt said he expected to see a shift in behaviour in the coming week as news of the Omicron Covid-19 variant emerged.
Online grocery sales fell by 12.5% in the month to 28 November as shoppers returned to stores after last year’s high street lockdown. But McKevitt said: “As concerns grow over rising case numbers, we expect some people will prefer to shop online again to limit their visits to stores.”