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Christmas shoppers turn to drink as grocery sales fall

Published:  21 December, 2015

Pre-Christmas shopping on alcohol is up this year, while spend on other groceries has decreased, according to the latest figures from data analysts IRI.

Sales of beers, wines and spirits in the two weeks to December 12 increased 3.3% year on year to £630 million.

Sales of sparkling wines have rocketed 11.6%, thanks in large part to Prosecco, which IRI reports has grown 72% over the last year.

Spirits contributed over £200 million to the total, with consumer spending up 3.8% on last year, which equates to some £7 million more.

We spent close to £74 million on whisky, reflecting its traditional strength in the gift category, and some £64.5 million on vodka and gin, up 5.6%.

Rum sales lifted 2.3% in the same period.

Grocery sales overall are down 1.6% to £4.9 billion, however. Food sales fell 1.3% to £3.5 billion, while non-food sales were £1.4 billion, down 2.1%.

Martin Wood, head of strategic insight, retail solutions and innovation at IRI, said: "While consumers get into the spirit of Christmas, literally in many cases, it seems that some of the more traditional Christmas categories are in decline, including cakes and desserts, while Christmas baking items are also down.

"This could be down to people taking a more healthy approach to the big day, but it's probably a little too early to say whether this trend will continue and we expect figures to bounce back during a busy Christmas shopping period this week.