Easter confectionery sales were up by 8.6% during the five-week run up to the Saturday before Easter Sunday across all of the major grocery multiples, bolstered by heavy promotional activity by some supermarkets in early March.
Total volumes were up 15.1% over last year, data from IRI's Retail Advantage Solution* indicate.
However, despite value sales reaching a peak of £111m ($165.8m) in the final week before Easter – 5.9% up on the same week last year – sales growth tailed off.
Martin Wood, head of strategic insight – retail for IRI, said: “We’ve seen some reports suggesting that supermarkets were running out of eggs in the final week before Easter. So, while sales did increase in that final week, they didn’t increase as much as they had in the earlier pre-Easter period starting in early March.”
Brand highs and lows
He estimated the missed opportunity to be £5.2m ($7.7m).
This, he explained, was the difference between the increase in sales that occurred in the final week and the increase that would have happened if the average sales growth over the five-week Lent period had been maintained.
Wood told Confectionerynews.com Nestlé saw the biggest drop in the last week ahead of Easter. Sales for the chocolate major were down 1.6% like for like, compared to being 8.4% up in the four weeks prior.
Lindt, however, outperformed the market over Easter with sales worth £17m ($25.3m) in the multiples in the final week, up 21%, suggesting it may have picked up sales as stocks of other brands ran out. Lindt sales were also up 16% in value over the previous four weeks.
Wood said anecdotal evidence also suggested convenience stores “cleaned up” in the Easter week.
“We’re seeing a resurgence of seasonal event management in retail this year, following strong Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day sales. But it’s also clear that the major supermarkets underestimated the demand for Easter and that other retailers, like convenience stores, benefited from this. It’s reasonable to assume that they could have done a lot better this year if they hadn’t sold out of eggs!”
The five-week surge
IRI data suggests a general consumer malaise over the entire Easter period, which started after Christmas, Wood said.
The extended Easter period was flat at 0.6% value growth and only picked up in the five-week run up to Easter. In terms of volume, sales were up 1.2% up over the whole season, and 15.1% up in the five weeks before, compared to last year.
Non-seasonal chocolate was also down 7% over the entire Easter period, with a slight rise of 0.7% in the final week.
*IRI’s Retail Advantage is based on EPOS across the major grocery multiples in the UK, including retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Ocado, but not the hard discounters Aldi and Lidl, or convenience stores. The Easter confectionery market includes Easter eggs, confectionery and products such as bunnies.