Reasons to be cheerful in the run-up to Christmas 2021

Reasons to be cheerful in the run-up to Christmas 2021

It’s been the second tough year in a row with no sign of the pandemic disappearing any time soon, but that’s no reason to despair.

IF&CR takes a look at how Christmas 2021 will be different – and there are plenty of reasons for good cheer.

This time last year we were all facing another lockdown and non-essential retail and hospitality businesses were having to shutter their doors all over again, yet the grocery sector was about to prove surprisingly buoyant.

This Christmas grocery retailers will be hoping to emulate the Covid bump that we saw last year, which saw a record-breaking  €1.2 billion spent on groceries in December, making it the busiest month ever as families navigated constantly changing restrictions and battened down for Christmas.

Kantar’s figures showed that take-home grocery sales in Ireland rose by 17.0% in the 12 weeks to 27 December 2020, with many turning to the supermarket to provide some sorely needed festive cheer.

Comfort and joy

Over the next month or so, consumers will be seeking out extra comfort during the festive season and finding pleasure in the innocent delights of the selection box.

Last December saw an extra €6.7 million spent on chocolate confectionery, and Halloween 2021 has shown us the shape of things to come with an extra €2 million spent on confectionery over the 12 weeks up to October 31.

Even at that early stage the signs of Christmas shopping were very evident, according to Kantar retail analyst Emer Healy.

“With Christmas ads appearing on our screens earlier than ever, and retailers giving seasonal staples a prominent position on shelves, Irish shoppers are getting into the festive spirit,” she says.

“It seems everyone is looking for an excuse to celebrate and Christmas has certainly arrived in the supermarket aisles. With Christmas ads appearing on our screens earlier than ever, and retailers giving seasonal staples a prominent position on shelves, Irish shoppers are getting into the festive spirit.”

Grocery spend

Last year the average shopper spent €134 more on groceries in December than they did the previous year, with 23rd December turning out to be the busiest shopping day of the year when almost half the Irish population headed to the supermarket.

While some hospitality restrictions have returned, we’ll still be seeing office parties and Christmas nights out, but we can still expect to see plenty of customers recreating the party atmosphere at home. Last Christmas saw take-home alcohol sales soar by 33% and as we grow more accustomed to the new normal, we can expect lots of clinking of glasses around the fire.

Festive feasting

With most people staying in Ireland instead of jetting off elsewhere, we can expect increases in the big Christmas feasts, the foods that typically fill our plates, along with the drinks and snacks we munch on into the evening time.

According to polls, roast potatoes are consumers’ favourite savoury Christmas food, followed by traditional turkey. Yorkshire puddings, pigs in blankets and stuffing are also hugely popular, while most would happily leave cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts off their plates.

We could again see a shift to smaller and alternative cuts with tighter guest lists – last year the traditional turkey was off the menu for many this Christmas as Irish households spent €938,000 more on turkey rolls, €398,000 extra on roast beef and an additional €480,000 on roast pork in December.

When it comes to sweet treats, it’s mince pies, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and classic trifle that are consumers’ favourites.

We can also expect to see lots of that party food coming home as well, with customers alternating the big roasts and feasts with simple and festive treats, such as the ever popular  cocktail sausages, mini sausage rolls, mini quiches, mince pies, garlic mushrooms, cheese platters and chicken goujons that prove ever popular.


Sales of over the counter medicines are expected to increase as shoppers aim to stay well over the festive period.

Consumers will stock up on heartburn and indigestion remedies in a bid to beat the inevitable overindulgence and they’ll also look to painkillers to help soothe any hungover heads or aches and pains.

We’re already seeing people focusing firmly on their health, with remedies for coughs and colds rising in October thanks to more mixing and socialising and a rise in seasonal bugs.

Sales of flu treatments soared by 56% and cough lozenges by 36% respectively in October.

Digital Christmas

Meanwhile, far-sighted grocery businesses that have invested in their digital side over the pandemic won’t be going far wrong.

Last Christmas, Irish households spent €133 million through digital channels, and digital orders accounted for 4.1% of all grocery sales in December.

New shoppers continue to dip their toes online, and we can expect digital sales to go from strength to strength this Christmas and in the months afterwards.

For full feature, click HERE.