Supermarket chain Waitrose reported that the total sales excluding fuel were 31.1 per cent up for the week before Christmas (ending 24th December), which this year included two extra days of sales as Christmas Day and Boxing Day fell in the equivalent week in 2015. Comparisons for the following week (ending 31st December) were also distorted by the fall of Christmas and New Year. This trading week included Christmas Day and Boxing Day when branches were closed. The equivalent week in 2015 only included one day (New Year’s Day) when the majority of branches didn’t trade and consequently total sales excluding fuel were down 12.5 per cent.
As expected, entertaining was a key theme throughout the two week period with customers getting ready to impress their guests. Party food was up 14 per cent, Christmas cakes were up 9 per cent and frozen desserts were up 11 per cent. Home items, such as crackers and wrapping paper, performed strongly and Christmas trees were up 20 per cent as customers decorated their houses for family and friends.
Meat sales grew overall with popular alternatives to turkey including duck, up 13 per cent, beef, rising by 6 per cent and slow cooked meats surging by 63 per cent. Toasts were raised across the country to bring in the New Year, with English sparkling wine up 65 per cent and champagne up 13 per cent.