Myth #8: Consumers upgrade their groceries at Christmas

The way to a Brit’s heart is through their stomach. We know that food adds to our love and excitement for Christmas.

We asked Brits what typifies the British Christmas culture and quite naturally the conversation turned to food: turkey, pigs in blankets, sprouts, crackers, Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and many more.

There is a classic assumption that once Christmas time approaches, Brits upgrade their groceries from Lidl to Waitrose or from supermarket own-labels to branded versions to impress the mother-in-law or make the neighbour’s cat jealous.

This routine Christmas upgrade is actually a myth – however, with an intriguing twist.

It’s no surprise that Britons buy greater volumes of food as Christmas draws closer. Not only do they buy more, but their shopping baskets get filled with treats that they usually would not buy as part of their weekly shop, with almost eight out of ten Brits buying food and drink indulgences.

Obviously, savoury snacks, meat, booze and party foods are the categories most likely to be bought more at Christmas, along with cheese and desserts. These sit alongside more exclusive treats and other luxuries such as lobster and fine wines.



We have been repeatedly asked if consumers upgrade their grocery products at Christmas. We investigated and found the concept of ‘upgrading’ to be twofold.

Something interesting happens in the Christmas grocery path to purchase. In the run-up to Christmas, Brits increase the number of grocery stores that they shop at from two to three. Everyday routines and repertoires change and expand!



“I will do some of my food shopping at Tesco and some at Waitrose – but this year I hope to be able to have time to go to Lidl as well.” Anna, 43

Consumers are obviously looking for good quality in their purchase and they know where to go for which items. And now they have also found ways to maximise good value.

Being budget conscious, most Brits try to find a compromise to be able to maximise what they can get for what they can pay. Hence Britons cleverly cherry-pick between supermarkets and juxtapose high-end with high-value.

Challenging the UK’s Big Four, discounters have become popular destinations for buying Christmas treats, such as German Christmas Stollen from Aldi, or spirits from Lidl. The idea of getting something special for Christmas at a good price, combined with the increasing quality perceptions of Aldi and Lidl products is something that ticks all of the boxes.

“I did use Aldi and Lidl in the run up to Christmas to get a few of the German items they had there (e.g. Lebkuchen, spiced biscuits, etc)” Angela, 60

So what?

Value upgrades, rather than quality upgrades, are synonymous with Christmas grocery shopping.

At Christmas, curiosity and desire for new and novel grocery categories are in the air, providing occasions to drive trial. Here is a great opportunity to showcase innovative ways of distribution, price promotions and in-store presence. How can the concept of ‘value-upgrade’ be incorporated into the media mix? And how can out-of-home be made more interactive and be incorporated into the grocery path to purchase?

Food is key to the British Christmas culture and it is important to make the most of the conscious cherry-picking behaviour of Brits at Christmas.


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