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UK grocery sales hit £12.8bn in December, as mounting food prices raised households’ Christmas shopping bills, according to new sector data released on Wednesday.

The figure for December 2022 was £1.1bn higher than in the same period of 2021 and marked the first time monthly grocery sales exceeded £12bn, according to research by consulting company Kantar.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said that grocery price inflation was the “real driving factor” behind the figures, noting that by volume sales declined 1 per cent year-on-year.

“Value sales of mince pies soared by 19 per cent but volume purchases barely increased at all,” McKevitt said, referring to a popular British festive snack.

Kantar’s data showed grocery price inflation for the month was near record levels, at 14.4 per cent above the same month a year before, edging down from 14.6 per cent in the previous month.

“This is the second month in a row that grocery price inflation has fallen, raising hopes that the worst has now passed,” McKevitt said.

The decline recorded by Kantar contrasted with a rise in food-price inflation recorded by the British Retail Consortium, a trade body. It said that food prices in December were 13.3 per cent on the same month a year before, against 12.4 per cent in November.

High food prices also prompted buyers to turn to discount chains over the festive period, according to Kantar. It said that Aldi, the UK’s fastest growing grocer, expanded its market share to 9.1 per cent in December, up from 7.7 per cent a year before.

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