Grocery sales in Ireland hit €1.2bn over Christmas 2019, Nielsen reports

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Grocery spend in Ireland hit €1.2bn in the four weeks to 29th December 2019, as Irish shoppers spent an additional €32.5m over the Christmas period in comparison to the same time last year, reveals new data released today from Nielsen.

Thanks to Christmas falling on a Wednesday, the Irish market experienced a sharp increase in grocery sales closer to Christmas day, rising by +15.3% in the w/e 29th December, in comparison to the same period in 2018. As a result, over the four weeks to 29 December,  Irish shoppers over the four week period spent 2.7% more on groceries than they did during Christmas 2018. This incremental spend saw the average grocery spend per week per household  increase from €165 to €182 per week in December 2019.

The best performing category was chilled groceries (+4.2%), which gained €9m in sales in the last four weeks, as well as frozen (+4.3%) and bakery (+4.1%). Pet food (+5.2%) also experienced an uplift, as well as confectionery (+3%).

Alcohol, which is usually an area of strong growth over the Christmas period, saw a decline of -2.9%, with sparkling wine and champagne experiencing the biggest decline of -11.3%. Total beer value sales also declined over the four week period, with ale (-2.6%), lager (-3.3%), cider (-4.5%) and stout (-6.8%) all down. Whiskey (+4.3%) was the only product within the spirits category in which sales grew, whilst gin – which experienced +29% growth in 2018 – fell by -0.3%. 

In contrast, sales in non alcoholic and low alcoholic beer grew by +27.2% in comparison to December 2018, valuing the market at €795k in the last four weeks to 29th December.

In terms of retailers, combined market share for the discounters Aldi and Lidl increased by +4.5%, whilst multiple retailers, which include Tesco, Supervalu, Eurospar and M&S saw an overall small value decline of -0.2%. However, sales at the discounters and multiples picked up pace in the two weeks to 29th December, with sales growing to +5.5% and +2.7% respectively. Meanwhile, convenience stores grew at +5.1% in the last four weeks, in comparison to +2% for the last 52 weeks.

Karen Mooney, Ireland market leader at Nielsen, said: “The Irish market has benefited from a strong festive sales boost over the Christmas 2019 period, with shoppers spending an additional €32.5m in comparison to Christmas 2018. However, there also appears to be a shift in shopping behaviour, as Irish consumers opted to spend less on alcohol and more on low or no alcohol products, which could be a reflection on wellness trends. Alternatively, Irish consumers may have shifted spend in other areas, choosing to invest heavily in their pets (+5.2%) this Christmas. This is a reflection on consumer trends towards pet humanisation, as we look to treat our pets more as family members and spend more on them.”