Season of surprising highs for retail during a Covid Christmas

On paper, a Covid-driven Christmas didn’t look good for retail. But while the season was unpredictable, the sector fared better than many had predicted.

Here are some reasons why, against the odds, retailers have some reasons to celebrate.

More organised shoppers

One reason to celebrate was that the shape of Christmas trading was different than previous years, reports Retail Week. Rather than last-minute panic buying, consumers decided to get organised.

This was helped by many retailers launching their Black Friday events earlier than usual to encourage customers to start buying earlier.

And many consumers did just that. Driven by concerns about the availability of products and disruption in supply chains, Christmas gifts and groceries were bought in plenty of time, creating a longer, more rounded festive period in sales.

A boost in grocery sales

Some of the biggest Covid Christmas winners were grocery retailers. As many consumers’ festive plans were brought to a halt in the lead-up to Christmas as more restrictions were introduced, supermarkets and food retailers stepped in. A range of festive food to feed smaller gatherings was snapped up in the week before Christmas, as consumers prepared for a very different Christmas.

With pubs and restaurants being forced to shut, Brits kept their celebrations at home. According to data from Kantar, shoppers spent £11.7 billion on groceries during December. 

So what did we eat? Sprouts remained popular, as did cheese, fresh fish, pork joints and alcohol. Not so popular were turkeys and Christmas puddings – an indication of fewer mouths to feed and pared-back celebrations.

Many supermarkets, as well as local independent food stores, saw a boost in sales. Sainsbury’s Christmas grocery sales jumped 7.4%, while M&S boss Steve Rowe said it had delivered a robust Christmas performance “beneath the Covid clouds”. 

Trading moves online

With non-essential shops having to close as tougher restrictions were brought in, retailers with a strong online presence saw sales remain high.

In fashion, party wear took a back seat while sales of loungewear increased. Retailers that were able to modify production according to these different demands had the most success.

According to PwC director Kien Tan: “Covid has taught winning retailers how to […] manage stock better. I don’t think we have mountains of unsold stock this year.”To find out how we can help you create powerful communications that deliver impact and boost sales, get in touch with The Delta Group team today.