Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, commented: “January wasn’t quite the fresh start we hoped for and ongoing lockdowns meant we continued to rely on supermarkets to keep us fed. With restaurants and bars closed for the past four weeks, Irish shoppers spent an extra €142.8m on take-home groceries compared with last year.”
Return to homeschooling
She highlighted that the return of home schooling in January had also led to households with children spending €172 more on groceries in the latest four weeks.
Meanwhile, the data suggests shoppers struggled to balance the usual new year resolutions and health kicks with a need to treat themselves and lift their spirits in lockdown. Veganuary had less impact on consumer purchasing than previous years with 15,000 fewer Irish households purchasing meat-free alternatives during the period, driving a 5.2% decline in sales compared with 2020.
Dry January did boost sales of non-alcoholic beer (+84% year-on-year), although it appears people didn’t deprive themselves completely with sales of chocolate and crisps growing by 26% and 40% respectively.
January also brought uncertainty about the impact of Brexit. Healy said: “All eyes have been on our supermarket shelves following the Brexit deal. We have seen some impact from the temporary disruption in the fresh fruit aisles and sales of tropical fruit, strawberries, and soft fruit all fell this month as shoppers struggled to get their hands on imported produce. But there has also been a boost for homegrown Irish staples and sales of vegetables have increased by 18.5% in the latest four weeks. Stable grocery inflation of 1.6% in January also suggests that shoppers aren’t feeling an additional pinch on their wallets just yet.”
Meanwhile, sales of groceries through digital channels reached a record share in January, accounting for 5.2% of the market – almost double from 2.7% a year ago.
Bolstered by their online presence, Tesco and SuperValu boosted sales by 16.5% and 18.5% respectively. While both retailers achieved sales growth through larger shops, it was Tesco that saw the biggest increase in trip size among all the grocers this period as shoppers added on average 3.5 more items to their trolleys.
Lidl continued to see the strongest growth of all the retailers and grew sales by 25.6% as shoppers spent an additional €77.9m in store. Aldi’s sales growth was driven by shoppers adding more items to their baskets.
Dunnes still had the largest share of the market as its customers to continued to spend the most in the store.