Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee: British supermarkets set for boom as celebrations begin

The approaching Jubilee celebrations helped lift supermarket sales by 2.3 per cent in the week ending May 21. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - British supermarkets are set for a boost over the Jubilee holiday weekend as Britons shrug off the cost-of-living crisis to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 70 years on the throne. That is according to some of the nation's biggest grocers, who expect patriotic staples to fly off shelves at the fastest rate in a decade.

While many shoppers have already stocked up on drinks and party decorations for the four-day weekend, the sunny weather is likely to lure customers back to stores for more fresh food.

"Brits love a royal celebration and the Queen's Platinum Jubilee is set to spark a feel-good factor with plenty of street and house parties," said Ms Alice Gallop, chilled food category planner at Tesco. "We are predicting the biggest concentrated demand for British classic food and drink for a decade."

Tesco says it expects to sell four million bottles of gin, 3.5 million baskets of strawberries and two million cream cakes over the holiday period. Hundreds of thousands of champagne bottles, sausage rolls, scotch eggs and pork pies are also likely to be sold, the Britain's largest grocery chain said.

Sainsbury predicts a 200 per cent increase in sales of cake decorating items, and at least a 30 per cent jump in transactions for cupboard staples such as flour, eggs and icing sugar as Britons bake cakes and sweet treats for guests.

Home bakers have also been flocking to Waitrose, where sales of savoury pastries have surged 325 per cent compared to last year and online searches for the supermarket's Victoria sponge recipe is up by more than 900 per cent. At John Lewis, the department store that operates Waitrose, sales of cake stands have risen 166 per cent, while bunting sales have quadrupled as residents decorate their houses and streets.

Pricier parties

The approaching Jubilee celebrations helped lift supermarket sales by 2.3 per cent in the week ending May 21, according to data by Nielsen. Some 20 per cent of households are expected to buy extra groceries for the extended holiday weekend, Nielsen said.

But British consumers will be more wary of splurging on non-essential items than they were for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012, according to data provider Kantar. Supermarket sales jumped 10 per cent during those celebrations, but since then inflation has pushed up the average amount spent on a bottle of sparkling wine by almost £2 to £7.05 (S$12).

"We should never underestimate the appetite for a party, especially a royal one," said Mr Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar. "While we're all keen to celebrate in style, shoppers will be carefully considering any unnecessary expense, and prices are significantly different from the last Jubilee."

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