Friday 23 December 2016

Supermarkets To Rake Nearly £900m In Christmas Spend On Friday


Supermarkets are braced for their busiest day of the year on Friday, with shoppers expected to spend nearly £900m on groceries for the Christmas break.

Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket, is expecting 10 million shoppers and to sell one-third of its Christmas turkeys, as 200,000 customers buy their birds and turkey crowns in one day. Sainsbury’s said its busiest shopping period would start at about 12pm.

Although many people make last-minute purchases on Christmas Eve, traditionally the number of shoppers out and about the day before Christmas is one-fifth lower than on 23 December.

But with Christmas Day falling on a Sunday, potentially leaving time for a full day of shopping on Christmas Eve, retailers are expecting to be busy.

The number of shoppers visiting the UK’s high streets and shopping centres was down 7.7% last week, according to shopper tracking company Springboard, and retailers are holding their breath for a final dash to stores.

Waitrose, which announced a 1.7% drop in sales last week on the same period last year, said many shoppers were holding off to make their big purchases later. It expects takings to be three-and-a-half times higher than on a normal Friday.

Grocers that focus on premium quality foods usually grab a bigger share of the market at Christmas. Marks & Spencer, which typically accounts for 3% of UK grocery spend, sells one-quarter of all festive turkeys.

In the past few years, discounters Aldi and Lidl have taken a bigger slice of the Christmas pie by tempting shoppers with luxury foods such as lobster and champagne at bargain prices.

This year, the major supermarkets have fought back, with Asda offering seasonal packs of vegetables such as carrots and potatoes for 20p, and Lidl slashing its price to 19p to undercut Tesco’s 39p packs, which were a hit last year.

Meanwhile, Iceland, which has struggled in recent years, has been seeing strong growth. Malcolm Walker, the chief executive of the supermarket, said: “We are on a roll, with everything going well.” He said Friday is expected to be the chain’s best Christmas sales day since its launch more than 40 years ago.

Meanwhile, the rise of next day delivery and click and collect is also encouraging shoppers to leave things later than in previous years.

Online retailers are offering some of their latest order dates in history. Fashion website Asos says shoppers who order before 8pm on Friday will get their gifts ahead of Christmas Day and Debenhams is promising click and collect next day delivery to stores for orders made before 9pm on Friday.

M&S and Next shoppers must order by Thursday night in order to get their gifts on time, although the latter is promising shoppers a refund and gift card if it does not meet its delivery promise.



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