Grocery inflation eased for the first time in 21 months in November, according to closely-watched industry data showing that the cost of a traditional Christmas dinner will still be around 9% up on 2021.
Kantar Worldpanel said its main grocery inflation figures offered a hint of hope ahead as the annual rate softened to 14.6% last month from a record 14.7% in October.
However the report, which charts the rise and fall in price of 75,000 supermarket items, showed that at the current rate shoppers would typically have to spend an extra £60 in December to buy the same products as last year.
Food and other essentials have been one of the main contributors to the rate of inflation hitting levels not seen for 41 years.
Russia’s war in Ukraine exacerbated a post-COVID lockdown imbalance between supply and demand, with many commodity costs surging.
The cost of producing and transporting goods has also risen sharply because of record energy and fuel prices.
However, raw energy and commodity prices have largely eased in the past few months – boosting hopes that prices paid by businesses and the public will soon start to fall back.
Kantar said the combination of inflation and festive spending meant that December was on course to be the biggest ever for take-home grocery sales.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “December looks set to be a record-breaking month with sales going above the £12bn mark for the first time.
“We’re expecting Friday 23 December to be the busiest day for pre-Christmas shopping.”
It said the cost of a traditional Christmas dinner for four had hit £31 for 2022 – up 9.3%.
Frozen turkeys up 11% in a year
The report charted a 30% rise in parsnip costs, with potatoes up 20%.
Frozen turkey was 11% higher in its comparison.
However, carrot costs were 7% down with brussels sprouts 3% lower.
Christmas pudding lovers were told prices were flat on the previous year.
Kantar reported a strong sales performance by supermarkets, particularly discounters, as households looked to save money by eating at home over dining out.
It said grocery sales increased by almost 6% during the 12 weeks to 27 November compared to the same period last year.
Retailers ‘doing all they can to keep prices down’
Separate data published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on Tuesday showed continued caution on discretionary spending but backed wider evidence that shoppers had moved to bag bargains during the Black Friday weekend.
BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson, said: “Sales picked up as Black Friday discounting marked the beginning of the festive shopping season.
“However, sales growth remained far below current inflation, suggesting volumes continued to be down on last year.
“As the weather began to turn, customers were quick to purchase winter warmers, such as coats, hot water bottles, and hooded blankets. Black Friday discounts also boosted sales of home furnishings as many households traded big nights out for budget nights in.”
The body, which also represents the supermarket sector, said retailers were doing all they could to keep prices down despite huge cost pressures.
“The cost of living crisis means many families might dial back their festive plans. Yet, with three weeks to go, there is still plenty of time for the Christmas cheer to bring sales home this Christmas,” Ms Dickinson added.