Christmas dinner costs rise as inflation bites

Christmas dinner costs rise as inflation bites

A meal for four now costs £27.48 on average, up 3.4% from last year.

But this has not dented people’s “desire to treat themselves and loved ones” this Christmas, Kantar said.

The food industry has been grappling with soaring energy costs, supply chain disruption and labour shortages.

The average cost of a frozen turkey has jumped 7% in price to £12.46, while Christmas pudding, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are all up 5% compared with last year, Kantar said.

“As we count down on our advent calendars to the big day, it’s clear that shoppers want to have some fun and make this Christmas extra special,” Kantar said.

“Price inflation doesn’t seem to be denting their desire to treat themselves and loved ones, and supermarket premium own-label ranges, such as Tesco Finest and Asda Extra Special, are the fastest growing ranges in store.”

In the past four weeks, grocery prices across the board have jumped 3.2% compared with last November, Kantar said.

While this is the highest rate of food inflation since June 2020, the research firm said it had not affected shopping behaviour so far.

“Habits we’d expect to see shift, like swapping branded products for own-label or seeking out promotions, haven’t altered just yet,” Kantar said.

Higher bills
Tanya, mother of a 10-year-old son, who lives in Braintree, Essex said her food shopping bills have already increased by around £20 per month.

Tanya earns a teaching assistant’s salary and orders home deliveries from Tesco’s.

“I’m really good with budgeting, but I’m only heating one room in the house at the moment because of my higher electric bills,” she says.

Her son will be having Christmas dinner at his Dad’s, but Tanya says she is reducing the number of presents she’s buying this year for her family.

“Luckily my son hasn’t asked for anything big and I’ve agreed with the rest of my family not to go all out as usual because costs are so high this year,” she says.

“I’m really worried about electric and heating going up this winter, while my wages have remained the same.”

Hard hit
Chris Birt, associate director at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said that because families on low incomes spend a greater share of their income on food, the continuing price rises are going to hit them particularly hard.

“In the wake of the recent cut to Universal Credit, there are families who will be left hungry and cold this winter,” he said.

“The government must, at a bare minimum, make sure that everyone has access to enough support so they can afford the basics.”

Professor of economics at the University of Bath, Chris Martin, said the rise in the cost of Christmas dinner was in line with the rising cost of living more generally, resulting in real effects on people’s spending power.

“Workers whose wages haven’t increased in line with inflation tend to be those on lower wages who were also hit worse by the pandemic,” he said.

While some workers in high demand sectors such as IT or supply chain logistics have had a substantial pay increases, around 65% to 70% of the UK workforce have not seen increased wages, he said.

This includes almost all workers in the public sector, which represent around 40% of the workforce and at least half of those working in the private sector, Prof Martin said.

“All the forecasts are telling us this will be a serious issue for at least three to four years and it will likely cause lasting economic damage,” he said.