BakeryandSnacks last month reported that data from retail analysts IRI had shown British shoppers bought a million fewer seasonal cakes and puddings in the first two weeks of December in major supermarkets than in the same period in 2014. This brought a 5.3% drop in value year on year in the two weeks to £27.1m ($40.3m).
But there was a marked improvement as a late surge in Christmas sales – partly a result of an extra peak shopping day compared with 2014, according to IRI – resulted in Christmas cake and pudding sales rising 6.3% year-on-year in the two weeks to December 26.
“We received some late top-up orders for Christmas which reflects a last-second surge in retail sales,” said Simon Hatcher, operations director at UK-based branded and own-label puddings supplier Cole’s Puddings, who added the increased orders were mainly for traditional-style recipes and gluten-free puddings.
Total Christmas cake and pudding sales for the whole of December were £74m ($108.3m), up 1.7% on year on year on the £72.7m ($106.4m) recorded in 2014.
IRI’s sales data covers mainstream UK supermarket and does not include discounters Aldi and Lidl, who have been stealing grocery market share from the supermarkets.
“The level of growth does provide some good news for supermarkets,” said IRI head of strategic insight Martin Wood. “It shows people are feeling better off as wages rise and fuel prices come down, and also that shoppers have not completely abandoned mainstream retailers for the discounters.”
He added, however, that competition with the discounters had driven down prices and had lowered revenues even in product categories where volumes had risen.
Price deflation resulted in sales of crisps and other ‘salty snacks’ falling £3.6m – or 4.5% year on year - in the first two weeks of December despite an increase in unit sales. Like cakes and puddings, this category also recovered value in the last two weeks of the month – up 1.7% – although this was not sufficient to make up for the earlier loss.