Shoppers go upmarket for Christmas

RETAILERS are on course to have a "premium Christmas" as shoppers trade up to more expensive brands in the run-up to the festive season, analysts claimed yesterday.

Monthly supermarket figures from Kantar WorldPanel showed that upmarket grocer Waitrose grew is market share from 3.9 per cent to 4.1 per cent in November.

Sainsbury's, which re-launched its premium "Taste the Difference" range in time for Christmas, was the star performer last month, growing its market share from 16.1 per cent to 16.4 per cent. The rise leaves Sainsbury's just 0.6 percentage points behind Asda, the UK's second largest chain, whose market share stabilised at 17 per cent after a series of small falls in recent months. Asda has also relaunched its "Extra Special" range in the run-up to Christmas.

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Tesco increased its slice of the market for the first time since May, rising from 30.6 per cent to 30.7 per cent, while Morrisons fell from 12.1 per cent to 12 per cent, its first drop since 2007.

Edward Garner, from Kantar WorldPanel, said: "Our predictions for a premium Christmas remain on track as Waitrose strongly outperforms the market once again. By contrast, the discounters' and Iceland's market shares remain unchanged, perhaps showing consumers reluctance to scrimp on food in the run up to the festive period."