Pumpkins help carve out a supermarket sales boost

Total divisional sales excluding fuel were up 1.4% for Waitrose for last week (to October 31).

Customers made the most of Halloween falling on a Saturday, with total sales for the seasonal event up 28% on last year. Waitrose marketing director Rupert Thomas said the grocery multiple’s smaller munchkin pumpkins proved popular (up 36%) with traditional carving pumpkins also being enjoyed by many (up 10.5%).

And with Halloween and the Rugby World Cup Final both taking place last weekend, the supermarket chain’s customers were preparing to host friends and family.

Shoppers were ready to host parties at home, with beer up 8%, ale up 15% and spirits up 16.5%. Gin and whisky proved the most popular tipple among guests, with sales for each up 36%.

Many enjoyed rustling up winter-warming dishes, with sales of root vegetables up 6%, organic potatoes up 22% and sweet potatoes up 37.4%. Those not cooking from scratch made the most of Waitrose’s range of ready meals, with chilled meals up 6.6%, pizzas up 10% and vegetarian options up 16%.

Customers finished off the night with frozen desserts, with cheesecake up 26% and gateaux up 44%. Those looking for a healthier option enjoyed frozen fruit, up 33%.

Elsewhere, fish had a strong week across various ranges, with both service counter fish and pre-packed fish up 3% and 7.7% respectively. Customers were purchasing childhood favourite foods to serve to their children this half term, with fish fingers up 13% and fish cakes up 20%.

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