Grocery sales in Ireland increased by 17.2% in the 12 weeks to 19 April as shoppers adjusted to life under lockdown. While grocery sales in the main are strong, retailers will have felt the effects of social distancing restrictions on food on the go purchasing and other non-grocery categories.

According to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel, year-on-year grocery growth slowed slightly from March levels to 22.5%. The average household visited the grocers 19 times, two times fewer than the same period last year as people followed Government advice to stay at home. “It’s been a challenging few weeks and we’ve all been grateful for how hard the grocery retailers have been working to keep us fed and watered. In the absence of dinners with friends and lunch on the go, many more meals are being eaten in the home and grocery sales have risen accordingly. But social distancing means people are less likely to be buying categories like clothes, food on the go, and general merchandise. This means for some retailers, the overall picture will be more modest.” explains David Berry, managing director of Kantar Ireland.

David Berry continues:In an effort to get everything they need in one go and cater for all the additional meals and snacks eaten at home, shoppers are adding an extra four items to their baskets each visit, increasing their monthly grocery bill by €118 on average. The change in shopper behaviour adds up to an extra €440 million spent on grocery in the past 12 weeks, but this additional spend is impacting individual retailers in different ways.

Grocery Market Share

In terms of individual retailer’s growth, Lidl was the fastest-growing of all the retailers over the 12-weeks boosting sales by 22.1% and increasing its market share to 12%. Aldi grew by 15.6% to hold an 11.8% share. SuperValu’s large store network meant the retailer benefitted from shoppers choosing to visit outlets closer to home, and was the only retailer not to experience reduced footfall during the past four weeks. David Berry says “Before lockdown, Dunnes customers already spent 80% more than the average shopper each visit at €43.80, which means the retailer has experienced less of a jump in spending per trip than those grocers starting from a lower base. Dunnes is growing slightly behind the rest of the market as a result, but these are extremely narrow margins and only 0.5 percentage points separate the three retailers at the top of the table.”

Online shopping increases while ready meals decline

Not unexpectedly, demand for online grocery soared as people try to limit their contact with others. 10% of Irish households received an online grocery delivery in the past four weeks compared with 6% last year with an additional €20.6 million spent online this month.

Another consumer trend during life in lockdown according to David Berry is an increase in home cooking. “People are turning to cooking from scratch as a good way to keep their families entertained at home. Sales of ready meals are in decline but 50% of Irish households bought baking supplies in the past four weeks, with flour up 52% and sugar up 43%. Those shoppers trying to recreate their favourite takeaway dishes have also boosted sales of ethnic ingredients by 41% and herbs and spices by 61%.”