The UK grocery market is expected to grow 1.2% over the Christmas period, with shoppers spending £20.6bn, according to forecast figures from IGD.

The research and training charity found that, by mid-November, more than a half of shoppers (53%) had already bought some food and grocery items for Christmas, and that six in 10 (63%) of those early shoppers expected to use up and replace at least some of the festive items already purchased.

In the case of biscuits, for example, 17% per cent of consumers had purchased biscuits for Christmas in November. More than a third (34%) of these shoppers will return to stores before Christmas, according to the research and training charity.

IGD also found that 15%of shoppers had purchased Christmas cake/puddings and mince pies last month, and that 36% will return to stores to re-stock.

Thirteen per cent purchased savoury snacks and 42% of these shoppers will return to stock up in the run-up to Christmas.

IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch added that retail competition is set to be as intense as ever.

“Those retailers and suppliers who combine to offer excellent value plus a compelling in-store experience will capitalise on the strong emotional connection between food, drink and Christmas,” she said.