Revealed: The food we buy only at Christmas

It’s no surprise to anyone that December is the biggest sales month for Australian supermarkets, but it may come as a shock to learn that some products have more than a tenth of their yearly sales in the week before Christmas.

Figures from research company IRI from more than 13,000 households, as well as supermarket scan data, show that 23.5 per cent of larger ham joint annual sales are made in the week before Christmas, as well as 12.2 per cent of turkeys.

Stocking up: Locals join in the Fairfield Uniting Church Christmas shopping trolley drive earlier this month.
Stocking up: Locals join in the Fairfield Uniting Church Christmas shopping trolley drive earlier this month.Credit:Simon Bennett

Other products such as boxes of chocolate, custard, ice, and batteries see substantial amounts of their total yearly sale in the week from December 17 to 24.

Shoppers spend 14 per cent more than average per shopping trip in the final week before Christmas, which affects which supermarket is more successful for the year.


“The way it turned out in supermarkets last year is that Coles was the big winner in the first quarter of the financial year due to Little Shop, and delaying their phasing out of plastic bags,” said IRI analyst Daniel Bone. “Woolworths then clawed it back in the second quarter, which included Christmas, and then pulled away after that.

“That momentum has carried them through this calendar year. That’s why there’s such a big fixation on this time of year for supermarkets, because we know people spend more and because its a potential momentum driver for the year ahead.”

Mr Bone said people were more environmentally conscious about their shopping decisions, and Australians may reject elaborately packaged products.

About 47 per cent of those surveyed claim to seek products with minimal packaging.

“This is indicating to what extent people are actively making steps to mindful of their packaging or material footprint,” Mr Bone said.

There are also signs that many internationally born Australians – especially those from New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom – turn to supermarkets to give them a taste of home during the festive period.

Research showed that dedicated supermarket fixtures providing food and drinks from these territories notably over-index in December trading.

In contrast, below-average sales were reported in other high-growth ethnic categories last December, including rice, noodles, Mexican, Indian, Asian, and Middle Eastern.

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