Christmas pudding sales soar as savvy shoppers stock up early to beat possible shortages

Canny shoppers are hoping to beat Christmas shortages by stocking up early with nearly half a million shoppers buying their Christmas puddings in September, according to the latest Kantar figures.

Consumers made the most of their time in store once they did make it to the shop

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: "A minority of very prepared shoppers took the chance to get ahead on their festive spending as 449,000 eager consumers bought their Christmas pudding in September, with sales 76 per cent higher than in the same month last year.

"Sales of toys are also up by 5 per cent on last year while gift wrapping products grew by 10 per cent."

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

In addition, mince pie sales are up 10 per cent year on year over the last four weeks and there has been an increase in frozen turkey sales. Despite this, Mr McKevitt said there are no signs of panic buying.

"It’s important to say that these are still relatively small numbers and anxiety around supply issues has not translated to panic buying – festive or otherwise,” he said.

"I don't think we will see panic buying although I think purchasing might be brought forward a little bit."

Mr McKevitt said that people are unlikely to leave Christmas food shopping until the day before Christmas Eve this year.

"People will be a bit more mindful about getting festive things in because of course, Christmas didn't really happen last year to a large degree," he said.

"I think a lot of people will want to celebrate this year.

"I think it will be a good Christmas as long as the public health situation doesn't deteriorate."

He said that the number one rule of retail is to "get stock on the shelf and sell it".

"Retailers are going to be working really hard to make sure that the shelves are stocked," said Mr McKevitt.

"I think that retailers and the Government should be working together to provide the confidence that we're going to have what we need."

Kantar said that grocery store sales fell 1.2 per cent in the 12 weeks to October 3. Despite this dip, sales are 8.1 per cent higher than they were before Covid-19 and every retailer boosted its sales compared with the same period in 2019.

Mr McKevitt said: “Queues outside petrol stations made headlines last month and visits to forecourts in the south of England increased by 66 per cent on Friday September 24 as people topped up their tanks ahead of the weekend.

"The reduced availability of petrol saw shoppers limit the number of trips they made to supermarkets. The average household made 15.5 store visits in the past four weeks, the lowest monthly figure since February.

"Shoppers staying off the roads also meant the proportion of groceries bought online, which has been steadily decreasing over the past seven months, crept up to 12.4 per cent compared with 12.2 per cent in September.

“Consumers made the most of their time in store once they did make it to the shop, and trips where people spent over £100 were up by 6 per cent.

Christmas isn’t the only big event on the horizon as Government and business leaders prepare for the forthcoming COP26 summit.

Mr McKevitt said: “With only a few weeks to go until world leaders converge on Glasgow, 29 per cent of British consumers now consider themselves to be environmentally conscious, up from 23 per cent last year.

"These customers can bring significant spending power to retailers and they now account for £37bn of grocery sales annually.

"Plastic waste is the most pressing concern for British consumers, with 48 per cent of shoppers naming it in their top five environmental priorities. Continuing to address these issues will be vital for businesses to engage shoppers in future.”

Like-for-like grocery prices rose 1.7 per cent in the past four weeks compared with last year.

Mr McKevitt said: “In real world terms, the average household had to spend an extra £5.94 on groceries last month than they did at the same time last year.

"The typical household spends £4,726 per year in the supermarkets, so any future price rises will quickly add up. Shoppers will look to manage their spend by carefully selecting the products and retailers that offer them the best value.”