UK sales of scented candles soar as Covid restrictions tighten | Business

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Sales of scented candles and retailers’ premium food ranges have soared as cold weather and coronavirus restrictions encourage Britons to hunker down for winter.

While the tightening of government rules has not led to a repeat of the stockpiling in the spring, they are still having a big impact on shoppers’ mindsets. Sales of scented candles, potpourri and essential oils for diffusers jumped 29% in October, according to the research group Kantar, while shoppers spent £56m more on premium own-label food and drink brands during the month.

Fraser McKevitt, the Kantar head of retail and consumer insight, said shoppers in Wales had spent an extra £10 a week on groceries during its recent firebreak lockdown but the increased spending “did not provide any evidence of stockpiling”. Initial figures for England also suggest “no sign of panic buying”.

The prospect of spending less time out and about during winter means people are “hunkering down with seasonal comforts and making the best of life at home”, McKevitt said. Spending on premium supermarket own-label products such as wine, chocolate and fresh meat was 18% higher than in October 2019.

The pandemic had an impact on Halloween celebrations with £9m spent on pumpkins, which was the same as in 2019, but sales of sweets for trick-or-treaters were down 2.3% as children were forced to stay home.

The operating restrictions faced by restaurant and pub chains have also a positive impact on sales at Bisto maker Premier Foods. Alex Whitehouse, the chief executive, said: “Britain has got cooking again” as more shoppers bought ingredients such as stock cubes and sauces. Sales at its grocery brands division, which includes store cupboard staples such as Bisto gravy granules and McDougalls flour, were up 13% in the three months to 26 September.

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The Kantar data showed UK grocery sales increased by 9.3% during the 12 weeks to 1 November with “no significant spike in demand” in the most recent four weeks, despite a variety of restrictions coming into force across the country.

However, the figures also revealed a huge increase in demand for frozen food with sales up 14% over the period. This surge was good news for Iceland, which was the UK’s fastest-growing supermarket chain with sales up 17.9% and the average shopper spending nearly 50% more per visit than in 2019.

“Frozen food has been a hot ticket since the beginning of the pandemic,” said McKevitt, who pointed to a spike in sales of fridge-freezers over the summer that showed “the desire for long-lasting provisions in the current climate”.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: UK sales of scented candles soar as Covid restrictions tighten | Business

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