Hope for the Golden Quarter at Christmas, say analysts

But food inflation and prices remain high

Nielsen reckons there will be a strong performance over Christmas despite the rising costs.
Nielsen reckons there will be a strong performance over Christmas despite the rising costs.

THE worst of inflation appears to be easing off, according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, but prices still remain high for plenty.

According to the ONS, the consumer price index including housing costs for the year to October 2023 sat at 4.7%.

While this is considerably smaller than the numbers reported earlier this year, it is still no cause for celebration as food inflation still remained in the double digits at 10.1%.

The ONS also noted that while the rate at which food prices have been increasing has been slowing down, its still remains about 30% higher than what it was during this time in 2021.

Similarly, Kantar has reported that grocery price inflation has fallen below 10% for the first time since July 2022 for the four weeks to 29 October, although consumers will still be feeling the impact of high costs at the counter as this downward trend has been seen only in certain categories.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar,  said: “While the drop to 9.7% is positive news and something of a watershed, consumers will still be feeling the pinch.

“We’re only seeing year-on-year price falls in a limited number of major categories including butter, dried pasta and milk.”

Despite this, Christmas fever is still expected to take hold with consumers for this Golden Quarter, as NielsenIQ (NIQ) has estimated that over the 12 weeks to 30 December, the UK will see a total spend of over £37billion – marking a 6.5% increase in spend on last year.

Mike Watkins, NIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight, said: “This autumn, shoppers have been carefully managing their grocery budget and making trade-offs with other spending, which means the supermarkets will need to get shoppers into the mood to spend as we get closer to December.

“Christmas campaigns will be more important than usual as shoppers are looking for smart savings and good reasons to spend. Many shoppers will be holding out for a few more weeks with the hope of not missing out.”