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Levercliff Christmas Lens 2023

As we approach the home straight to the big day, here over at Levercliff, we have been making some observations about what’s been happening within the grocery multiples so far and here is what we have noticed…

  1. Stepping into Christmas… cautiously!

At the start of the festive season Nielsen reported Christmas tree sales were down by a 1/3rd YoY * indicating that there has been a slower start to Christmas spending. Shoppers are likely to be more cautious with their festive spending this year, sticking to their regular shopping lists until they have the confidence to spend on Christmas food and drink.

  1. Get your booze on

A focus on higher volume deals (eg Buy 6 Save 20%) particularly on Wine, can be seen across the trade, encouraging shoppers to trade up, indicating a higher expectation of larger festive gatherings this year. Retailers will also be lapping a strong start to Christmas last year within BWS, with the FIFA World Cup 2022 which ran between 21st Nov and 18th Dec and so pushing more value into the category through increased volume deals will help retailers to annualise category sales.

  1. The fight for loyalty

A sea of loyalty card promotions can be seen across the trade. Whether this be Sainsburys Nectar, Tesco Clubcard, COOP Member Prices or Morrisons More Card, visibility is high as you shop online and instore. Retailers are fighting for shopper loyalty in a bid to win Christmas- but who will be crowned the winner of Christmas 2023?

  1. Promotions Promotions Promotions!

Nielsen reports that 92% of shoppers** aren’t planning on spending any more than last year on the holiday season, highlighting how tight the purse strings are for most. Promotional participation has increased YoY as retailers and brands look to help shopper spending. We can see this in some of our accessible category data across ambient, chilled and Frozen. % sales on deal for 4 w/e 02.12.23 show Ambient Morning Goods +1.6%pts, Frozen Meat Alternatives +3.9%pts and Chilled Meat Alternatives +10.6%pts.

  1. The crown for best quality

Quality is key at Christmas, we all like to feel like we are treating ourselves, family and friends with our food and drink choices that we serve up on the big day. Retailers have clocked on to this, weather this be Asda taking on M&S with their ’M&S Taste Match’ claims, Lidl shouting about their Good House Keeping award products or Waitrose using BBC Good Food Food Christmas Taste Winner accolade to push quality credentials, the competition is on to encourage shoppers to buy into their products!

  1. All hail the pigs in blankets

The ‘pig in blanket’ is swamping fixtures within fresh and frozen, with different formats, flavours and price points across both meat and meat alternative categories. This classic side has been ‘Loaded Up’ up in Sainsburys within its ‘Filthy Pigs in Blankets’ SKU which is topped with Cheese & Diced Chorizo! And it can been seen as a flavour profile by the masses within Crisps and Snacks with lots of off shelf feature particularly in M&S.

  1. Mainstream Meat Free

Gone are the days that vegetarians and vegans are stuck with just ‘all the trimmings’, retailers have stepped up their game both in store and within their Food To Order ranges to make sure that all diets are covered. Secondary space has been seen across a number of retailers which highlights that Meat Free is much more mainstream.

  1. Party Time

With another covid free restriction Christmas on the agenda, retailers are upping their focus and space on Party Food.  Multibuy deals can been seen in the majority of retailers, with M&S & ASDA offering 4 for 3 & Morrisons offering 3 for 2. Where as Tesco offer Clubcard Prices and Sainsburys offer Nectar Prices. There is definitely an even bigger expectation of larger gatherings by the retailers this year.

  1. World Cuisine with a Christmas Twist

Oriental Novelty Bao Buns can be seen within the party food aisle this year, bringing a bit of fun to the table. M&S offer a Snowman version, Sainsburys have a Holly version where as Tesco resemble a Tangerine shape. Gone are the days of a few sausage rolls or vol au vents to offer guests, there is an array of exciting and tasty world foods on offer across the market to spruce up the party table.

  1. HFSS who?

Compared to last year, where traditional HFSS categories saw a significant reduction in Off Shelf Feature, reformulation and NPD have seen these categories once again dominate space at front of store and off shelf display space. In aisle shippers have also been used to boost sales of festive confectionery, which arguably just goes against the idea behind HFSS? Non the less, there is an array of sweet biscuits and confectionery on show to tempt shoppers this year.

  1. Shrinkflation Sensation

British shoppers taking to TikTok to share pictures of chocolate boxes from years past towering over today's containers amid rising concerns over 'shrinkflation' - It comes as a report*** revealed Britons will this year spend an average of £105.43 more on Christmas amid price increases for mince pies and biscuits despite shrinkflation. The extra spending is linked to rising costs and shrinkflation, with 60 per cent of people noticing some festive items are getting smaller despite an unchanged price.

  1. Tradition with a twist

Premiumisation of regular staples such as Mince Pies or Hand Cooked Crisps can be seen through use of innovative flavours, making the occasion that little bit more special and different to years gone by. Within CSN flavours such as named Turkey Breeds (M&S Pembrokeshire Bronze Roast Turkey) or a dash of Prosecco (Sainsburys Brie and Bubbly Crisps) have been noted. In Mince Pies flavour extensions continue with the likes of Crumble Topped Salted Caramel (Tesco), or Cranberry and Orange Crumble Topped (Waitrose) offering customers traditional with a twist!

Thank you for reading and we will come back and review some of our observations in the new year & see who wins the grocery race to be crowned the winner of Christmas 2023!

*Source: Nielsen Christmas Tracker w/e 11.11.23** Source: NIQ Mid Year Consumer Outlook Survey 2023*** Source: Media Bites 5 December: Christmas shrinkflation, retail sales, Lidl | News | The Grocer

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