Ireland’s grocery decline softens as shoppers stock up for staycations

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The latest figures from Kantar show the grocery market declined by 3.9% during the 12 weeks to 8 August 2021, as life continued to edge back to normal in Ireland and indoor dining in restaurants, pubs and cafés returned for people who are double vaccinated.

Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, comments: “Grocery market growth dipped slightly this month, but it’s important to put that in perspective and remember that we are comparing sales against the peak of Covid-19 restrictions last year.  Irish shoppers still spent a massive €333.2 million more on take-home groceries than during this same period in 2019.  That represents double-digit growth of 13.4% in two years.”

In the most recent four weeks, take-home grocery sales decreased by 0.9% year on year. Healy comments: “People are enjoying getting out and about again – meeting up with friends and returning to their favourite restaurants – and that means they don’t need to buy as much food to eat at home.  Some of the best-selling categories during the Covid-19 lockdowns are now seeing the biggest sales drops. Sales of tea and coffee both fell by 8% as people have gradually got back to offices and can enjoy taking a break in coffee shops once again.

“However, the impact of the reopening of hospitality has been balanced slightly by a boom in staycations this summer. Instead of jetting overseas, many families have been packing up the car and heading to holiday rentals closer home. While the overall market is in decline, shoppers spent €7.7 million more on soft drinks, €664,000 more on savoury snacks, and €579,000 extra on chilled burgers and grilling meats as they made the most of the summer holidays and the August Bank Holiday.”

Online grocery sales dropped by 0.7% during the past 12 weeks. Healy comments: “Online shopping has been one of the most effective barometers of consumer confidence throughout the pandemic – when online orders decline, it shows that people are growing more comfortable to venture to physical shops and eat out again. Shoppers spent €917,000 less online, while their basket sizes went down by 4.4% this period. People are buying less but it’s worth noting that the number of people making an online order has actually held steady at 14% compared with last year. It looks like customers who were converted to digital in lockdown have enjoyed the convenience and service they’ve received and are sticking with it longer term.”   

SuperValu once again captured the largest share of the grocery market this period at 22.6%. Customers visiting 5.8% more often contributed an additional €37 million to the grocer’s sales. SuperValu shoppers made 21.1 trips on average in the latest 12 weeks which was the highest frequency amongst all retailers.

Elsewhere, Tesco, Dunnes, Aldi and Lidl all welcomed new shoppers this period. Healy comments: “During lockdown, shoppers returned to making big weekly shops and became increasingly loyal to one supermarket to feed their families.  Now that everything is opening up again, they are happier to mix it up and pop into different shops and Tesco, Dunnes, Aldi and Lidl all saw new faces in store this period as a result.”