The second wave: Will convenience sales spike once more?

The second wave: Will convenience sales spike once more?

With Coronavirus infections spiking, will we see a return to panic-buying? The convenience sector was in record demand as the country entered lockdown in March, and sales have remained steady ever since, tapering only slightly in the past number of weeks.

Take-home grocery sales growth in Ireland slowed to 13.7% year on year during the 12 weeks to 6 September 2020, the latest figures from Kantar reveal. Slowing growth suggests shoppers are starting to return to more normal habits following the unprecedented spending seen during the height of the pandemic. However, there are tentative signs that the market may accelerate again in the short term, as local lockdowns take effect around the country.

Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, comments: “Grocery sales over the past 12 weeks remain significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, but compared with April and May shopping routines are much closer to what we would usually expect. For example, people are visiting grocery stores more frequently than they have since June, at an average of 19 times over the course of the past four weeks, indicating an increased sense of security among shoppers since face coverings were introduced at the start of August.

Looking ahead, uncertainty about what lies ahead will be reflected in shopping habits. There may be small spikes here and there but don’t expect anything close to the lockdown panic we saw in March.

Kantar says ongoing local restrictions are expected to continue to disrupt shopping patterns across Ireland for some time to come.  Emer Healy continues: “In the latest 12 weeks, Dublin has seen the strongest growth of all the regions, with shoppers in the capital spending an additional €141 million on groceries compared with last year.  It will be interesting to see what effect the local lockdown could have on grocery sales as shoppers navigate new restrictions.”