When is the best time to do Christmas food shopping?

When is the best time to do Christmas food shopping? Large Aisle of a supermarket at Christmas with special offers on the end aisles.
(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo)

With shops already stocking festive goods, we've worked with experts to work out when is the best time to do Christmas food shopping this year. Should you start snapping up festive food now or wait until there might be bargains to be had?

According to new research from Marks and Spencer and YouGov, 15% of UK adults already believe they’ll be stocking on festive food up earlier this year than normal.

Plus, 13% of Brits are already looking forward to Christmas more this year than in previous years. Meaning people are already thinking about how they'll celebrate in December.

So, when is the best time to do Christmas food shopping and should we get started already?

When is the best time to do Christmas food shopping?

While experts may not be able to agree on the exact date or day that will be best to do your Christmas food shopping, what they do all agree on is that this year, in 2020, the best time to do Christmas food shopping is as soon as possible.

What with the uncertainty around Christmas this year because of coronavirus and shops already stocking festive food, experts from across the retail industry are urging Brits to start their Christmas food shopping as soon as possible.

This year, M&S predict that customers will spread the cost of their festive shop and get started on Christmas food shopping sooner rather than later.

'Shoppers will be looking to fill up their cupboards," M&S says. "Packing them with all the ingredients and festive must-haves to see them through the season. They will also get in there early with buying gifts."

Colourful boxes each containing a different christmas food illustration

Experts predict that shoppers will start buying Christmas food early this year,

READ MORE: 30 Christmas recipes to make in advance

Andy Barr, retail expert and Co-Founder of Alertr.co.uk, advises: “Typically, you’ll find that the busiest day for Christmas food shopping is the Saturday before the big day. That falls on the 19th December this year. It’s a good idea to go online to do your shop, as you can do this in advance. Otherwise the first or last hour of trading are usually the quietest. Also weekdays rather than at the weekend.”

Make sure to book your Christmas food delivery slot ahead of the festive period too. Popular Christmas food like turkey, pigs in blankets and Maris Pipers will be snapped up quickly. The earlier you do your shop online, the more likely the supermarket will be to have the items you want.

Do your Christmas food shopping in stages this year

Try making a Christmas food menu plan now to save time later. This will also allow you to start shopping for some items you know you will need as soon as possible.

Think about what you can buy now that will keep, such as freezer food, cupboard goods and bottled drinks like wine. For example, luxury freezer food brand COOK has already opened their Christmas food pre-orders.  This means you can order pre-made Christmas food now and secure a Christmas dinner delivery date for December.

Andy Barr recommends: “One of the most important things to remember when it comes to Christmas food shopping, is that it doesn’t all need to be done in one gigantic shop. Space out the shopping, rather than doing it all in one go. For any items that are long-lasting (wine, crackers, Christmas pudding) it really is never too early to purchase. Buying these any time before the end of November means that you’ll get them for a discounted price, particularly for the seasonal items."

On his blog (opens in new tab), chef Rick Stein recommends: "Get all your food and drink shopping done by December 22nd – that way you can avoid a last-minute trolley dash around your local supermarket." He also recommends "checking you’ve got enough oil to cook with and plenty of salt and pepper for seasoning." This is a good tip if you're being organised and buying some of your Christmas food in advance. You don't want to get to the big day and realise you're down to your last tbsp. of olive oil!

Things like spices, herbs and condiments (you can't have Christmas without cranberry sauce!) will all keep well. Buy these in advance and keep them safe in the cupboard until Christmas Day.

Last year, the busiest shopping days in supermarkets were the 22nd and 23rd December. According to Awin (opens in new tab), the busiest day for online grocery shopping was actually earlier in the month on the 12th December last year.

If you don't want to start your Christmas food shopping early – fair enough. Just make sure you avoid these dates and don't leave it until the days just before Christmas Day to start!

Rachael Martin

An internationally published digital journalist and editor who specialises in SEO strategy and content production, Rachael has worked as a writer and editor for both news and lifestyle websites in the UK and abroad. Rachael's published work covers a broad spectrum of topics and she has written about everything from the future of sustainable travel, to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the world we live in, to the psychology of colour.