The COVID-19 pandemic may me wreaking havoc on huge swathes of the economy but for the Irish grocery market, it has resulted in a major boost in sales according to the latest figures from Kantar which show that the market recorded its biggest period ever over the 12 weeks to March 22nd with year-on-year sales growth of 10.1% while spend up 27% on the previous 12 week period. This made March 2020 the biggest month for grocery sales ever.
According to David Berry, managing director, Kantar: “Over the past month we have faced profound changes to our daily lives as a result of the need for social distancing, impacting the way we work, shop and socialise. Retailers and their staff have risen to an enormous challenge since restrictions on movement were announced on 12 March. They have been on the frontline as households across Ireland prepared to spend more time at home, with more mouths to feed.”
According to the Kantar figures grocery sales reached €2.8 billion in the past 12 weeks – topping last year by €250 million and exceeding the previous peak seen at Christmas 2019. The average household spent an additional €122 on groceries during the four weeks to 22 March, largely driven by shoppers making bigger trips. Last year, 15% of households made a shopping trip containing €120 or more of groceries – this year that figure almost doubled to 27%.
At the top of the list for many shoppers were personal hygiene products and non-perishable foods. David Berry continues: “The products demonstrating the strongest growth show a country putting health, hygiene and practicality first. Sales of hand soap rose by 300% and household cleaners were up by 170% in the four weeks to 22 March. Facial tissues and loo roll were also in demand, with sales up by 140% and 86% respectively.
“Looking at our food choices, items with a longer shelf life saw the biggest uplift, as sales of frozen and ambient foods, meaning those that can be stored at room temperature, increased by 32%. By comparison, demand for fresh food has been more modest – growing by 16% over the last four weeks. While we’d expect sales to remain strong in the coming weeks and months, there will likely be a rebalancing of sales of fresh and non-perishable items as shoppers with full freezers and cupboards replenish fresh supplies.”
The increase in grocery sales benefited all retailers, according to Kantar.
“All the major retailers have adapted to rapidly changing circumstances, with teams working hard to keep shelves stocked during an incredibly busy time,” says Berry.
Dunnes on Top
The Kantar figures show that Dunnes, SuperValu and Tesco each saw sales increase by just over 10%. While the three grocers hold almost equal market share, Dunnes’ takes the largest portion at 22.3%, with SuperValu and Tesco following closely at 21.3%.
Lidl was the fastest growing of all the retailers during the 12 weeks, boosting sales by 14.7% and increasing its market share to 12.3%. Aldi, meanwhile, matched Lidl’s market share and grew sales by 11.9%.