Confectionery sales in UK supermarkets rose 8.1% to £256m ($375m) for the two weeks ending December 26 driven by premium gifting products.
Confectionery outpaced all other food and drink categories including Christmas cakes and puddings (+6.3%), beers, wines and spirits (+3.6%), salty snacks (+1.7%) and fresh poultry (-0.4%) over the period.
Overall supermarket FMGC sales were up 1.1% for the two weeks.
The IRI Retail Advantage data is EPOS data from all supermarkets, convenience stores and online transactions for major UK supermarket chains Asda, Co-op Food, Morrisons, Ocado, Iceland, Sainsbury's, Tesco, M&S and Waitrose.
Big chains beat discounter downfall
For the Christmas week alone, confectionery sales rose 19% compared to the same period last year to £119.8m ($175.6m). IRI said this was driven by an extra peak shopping day compared to 2014.
Martin Wood, IRI’s head of strategic insight, retail solutions & innovation, told ConfectioneryNews the numbers came as a surprise.
“The UK supermarkets didn’t get hit by the discounters as much as everyone was expecting…. Discounters don’t stock a range of well-loved brands – important for gifting and entertaining.”
Premium gifting profits
Regular chocolate sales were the biggest money spinner for the two weeks up to December 26, accounting for a quarter of UK confectionery sales, up 7.4% on last year to £52.8m ($77.4m).
But gift confectionery sales grew even more, by 10.9% to £129.9m ($190.4m). The gift segment includes products such as Cadbury’s Roses, Mars’ Celebrations and Mondelēz’s Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
Wood said there were more shoppers buying top-up Christmas presents with their supermarket shop this year.
He added that promotions in major retailers helped to drive volumes while consumers had more disposable income to spend on premium products and brands.
IRI also found sugar confectionery and gum sales were up 0.6% and 2.4% respectively. Sweet biscuit sales also enjoyed a 5.5% surge to £70m ($103m).
UK supermarket confectionery sales
Versus last year
[Source: IRI Retail Advantage - Two weeks up to December 26, 2015.]