Supermarket sales of Christmas cakes and puddings – and many other festive favourites – are currently trailing last year’s.

Britain’s major supermarkets* sold £20.2m worth of festive cakes and puds in the week ending 17 December, which was 12% lower than in the same period a year ago, according to data from retail analysts IRI.

A key reason for this year’s lower figures was the day Christmas has fallen in the calendar, said IRI strategic insight director Tim Eales, adding he expected strong grocery sales this week.

“We expect to see a massive week immediately before Christmas, with seven shopping days as against only five last year, since our weeks end on a Saturday,” he told British Baker.

Cakes and puds have nonetheless been trading considerably behind the overall grocery market, which was down 3.7% year on year to £1,889.6m in the week to 17 December.

Sales of goods classified by IRI as Christmas baking products – including flour, sugar and sweeteners, and dried fruit – are down 6% year on year at £21.8m, while frozen desserts and ice cream are down 7.9% at £16m.

Only one of the Christmas product categories monitored by IRI  – decorations, cards and wrap – was performing ahead of last year, with sales up 11.2% year on year to £31.3m.

Earlier this month, research and training charity IGD reported results of a study that found more than half of shoppers (53%) had already bought food and grocery items for Christmas by mid-November, 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.

IGD also said it expected the UK grocery market to grow 1.2% over the Christmas period.

* Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Co-op, Waitrose, Iceland, Marks & Spencer and Ocado.