Grocery sales soar as lockdown sets in and shoppers seek Christmas comforts  

Grocery sales soar as lockdown sets in and shoppers seek Christmas comforts  
Take-home grocery sales growth in Ireland accelerated to 14.4% during the 12 weeks to 1 November 2020, the latest figures from Kantar show.  Year-on-year growth was stronger again over the latest four weeks, reaching 18.8%, as the nationwide lockdown closed restaurants, cafés and non-essential retailers.

Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, said“Irish shoppers spent over €1 billion on take-home groceries in October, €161.6 million more than last year.  With dining out officially off the table, and families preparing more meals to eat at home, this was the biggest month for grocery sales since the height of the previous lockdown in June.  It all feels a far cry from August, when restrictions on eating and drinking out were eased, and the average monthly grocery bill was €200 lower.”

Extra essentials

Across the board, growth was driven by shoppers adding a couple of extra essentials to their baskets.  Tesco customers picked up an average of three additional items per shop over the past 12 weeks, the biggest increase in trip volume among all the retailers. The grocer grew sales by 14.8% to hold a 21.2% market share.

As the end of the year approaches, consumers are accepting that seasonal traditions and festivities will look a little different this year.  Emer Healy continues: “Halloween was certainly a quieter affair this year and, with trick or treating out of the question, sales of multipack sweets declined by 40% compared with October 2019.  Sales of pumpkins also dropped by 15.5% as households had less need for the usual welcoming jack-o’-lanterns.

Early Christmas Spirit

It’s not all doom and gloom though, and lockdown has led some Irish shoppers to get into the Christmas spirit unseasonably early.  They are getting ahead on preparations for the big day and 50% more shoppers have bought their Christmas turkey than had at this point last year, while sales of mince pies are up 36.8% and boxed chocolate sales by 44%.”

As people look for ways to treat themselves at home, Lidl customers spent an additional 50% on branded products in the latest 12 weeks.  The grocer once again achieved the strongest growth among the retailers over the past three months, growing by 21.1% to hold a 12.7% share of the market.  Aldi’s sales grew by 11.7% this period, primarily driven by an increase in spend per buyer and shoppers adding more items to their baskets.

Online grocery sales

Online grocery sales continue to soar, rising by 90% year on year in the latest four weeks. “Online grocery continues to set new records, with almost 255,000 of us shopping through digital channels in October.  New converts to online grocery contributed an additional €30.8 million to the market in the past month as tighter restrictions were introduced.  Shoppers also increased the size of their digital trolleys by 9.6%,” said Emer.

Dunnes takes the top spot this period and holds the largest share of the market at 22.2%.  Its sales were particularly strong in Dublin, where shoppers have been living under lockdown since mid-September and spent an additional €38.8 million at the retailer in the latest 12 weeks.  Grocery sales growth in the capital was the fastest across all regions this period.

Chilled-convenience categories like pizza and ready meals proved popular at all the retailers, and this was particularly true at SuperValu which boosted sales of the cosy night in favourites by 15% year on year.  Sales at the grocer grew by 18.0% this period and it increased its market share by 0.7 percentage points to 21.9%.