Bakers report a mixed bag of Christmas results

18 January, 2011
by Georgi Gyton and Helen Gregory
Page 4 

December's snow created a mixed picture for Christmas trading.

Bread sales in the supermarket's in-store bakeries fell in the month leading up to Christmas, according to the latest four-week data from Kantar Worldpanel.

They dropped by 8.9% by volume and 5.2% in value, while bakery products (not including bread) rose by 7.4% in value but fell by 2.4% in volume in the four weeks to 26 December compared to the same period last year. Overall, in-store bakery sales were up 3.9% while volume was down 3.4%.

The craft trade was hit by bad weather in the crucial build-up to Christmas. "The lead-up to Christmas was tricky because the weather put a lot of people off coming into the shop and Christmas Eve was disappointing," said Peter Cook, of Ludlow-based craft bakers Price & Sons. But New Year's Eve was extremely busy and everything had sold out by 12.30, he said.

Alister Asher, MD of Scottish bakery chain Ashers, said that although Christmas 2010 didn't break any records, trade had been steady. "The snow changed people's shopping habits, as they found it hard to get to supermarkets and stayed in town centres," he said. "We sold slightly fewer Christmas cakes and traditional products, but made up for it with food for shoppers and bread."

One Gloucester-based craft business also suffered a disappointing start to Christmas, taking only 300 on the Saturday before Christmas, and was forced to close early due to the snow it took 2,500 on the same day in 2009.

Kindred Bakery in London experienced a very busy week in between Christmas and New Year the first time it had been open over this period, while Yorkshire-based The Tiny Cake Company said trade was slightly down on last year, as the bad weather meant some of the fairs it sells at were cancelled.

Edward Chatwin of Nantwich-based craft chain Chatwins admitted that Christmas trading hadn't been as good as previous years. He said: "The weather had a large impact Christmas week was in line with 12 months ago, but the two weeks before were noticeably quieter with the volume of customers down."





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