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Perseverance by retailers ensured that sales remained high over the festive period. According to data by the Office for National Statistics, food store sales dropped by just 1% during December as the Omicron variant rapidly spread through the UK. By contrast, overall retail sales volumes fell by 3.7%, the biggest monthly drop since January 2021. Even with the drop, food retailers remained 3.2% above pre-pandemic levels, when compared to February 2020.
Grocers were more “resilient” as they “scooped up customers who’d cancelled restaurant and bar bookings for a festive blow out at home”, according to Susannah Streeter, Hargreaves Lansdown’s senior investment and markets analyst. “The spread of Omicron may have slowed Christmas spending, but the perseverance of retailers helped deliver a successful Christmas for consumers,” added Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC).