Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, commented: “A year on from the start of the pandemic, lockdown is still having an impact on shopping habits, and over the past 12 weeks the market continued to grow. However, looking at the shorter-term picture supermarket sales actually fell over the most recent four weeks, as people spent €59.3m less than in March 2020 when they were stocking up ahead of the first national lockdown.
Strong increase in sales
“Even with March sales down compared to 2020, they remain almost 20% higher than in 2019. Two-year ending growth figures allow us to look at how the retailers are performing compared with what we would typically expect at this time of year, and the numbers show a strong increase in sales. This will likely continue until pubs, restaurants, workspaces and schools reopen and shoppers start moving spend on to food and drink out and about as well as in home.”
Despite restrictions limiting many traditional festivities, it appears Ireland still celebrated St Patrick’s Day with gusto, albeit it at home for another year. Shoppers didn’t let lockdown dampen their spirits, with alcohol sales growing by 25.8% over the 12 weeks. Guinness specifically was bought by 10% of the Irish population, compared to 6% last year, which meant an extra 70,000 households took it home.
Easter Eggs bought early
Kantar said that early evidence showed that Easter weekend was also a big occasion, with 63% of people buying an egg before 21 March, compared to 41% at the same time last year. That meant sales jumped by 124% with an additional €18.1m spent.
Meanwhile, unlike the total market, online grocery shopping showed no signs of slowing down, even compared to March last year. Shoppers spent an additional €25.5m through digital platforms, with most of the major retailers now offering online delivery in some form. Healy said: “Online grocery shopping has taken off in the past year, but because it is relatively new to Ireland, it still has a lot of headroom to grow.”
Basket sizes grew
Of the retailers, SuperValu maintained its number one position and grew ahead of the market in the 12 week period, with sales up by 13.9%, giving it a 22.4% market share. Shoppers tend to make large trips to SuperValu and basket sizes continued to grow. It was also the only retailer to increase the number of visitors it welcomed into store during the latest period, which contributed an additional €2.9m to its overall performance.
Tesco is currently the country’s second-largest retailer, with 21.6% of the market. Large trips were again the source of its success as people added an average of three packs per trip to their trolleys, helping the retailer grow overall sales by 9.9%. Meanwhile, Dunnes grew by 3.6% to hold a 21.3% share.
Lidl shows fastest growth
Lidl’s growth was strong once more at 12.3%, increasing its market share to 12.7%. It recorded the fastest growth of branded goods among all retailers. Aldi currently has a 12% share and grew by 6.2% after making particular gains in Munster where sales increased by 7.7%.
Kantar’s data showed that grocery market inflation stood at 0.9% for the period.