Grocery sales in Ireland dropped 3.9% year-on-year in the 12-week period to 8 August, as people ventured back to offices, and coffee shops and indoor dining resumed for fully vaccinated people, according to the latest data from Kantar.
Shoppers spent €333.2 million more on take-home groceries in this period, compared to 2019, a 13.4% increase in two years.
In the most recent four weeks, take-home grocery sales decreased by 0.9% year on year.
Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, commented, "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.
"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."
Healy noted that some of the best-selling categories saw the biggest sales drop during the lockdowns, including tea and coffee registering an 8% decline as people returned to offices and coffee shops.
In the 12 weeks to 11 July, grocery sales dipped 5.9% in Ireland due to the loosening of restrictions, but remained well ahead (15.9%) of the corresponding period in 2019.
Boom In Staycations
The impact of the reopening of hospitality was balanced slightly by a boom in staycations this summer as many families opted for holiday rentals closer home instead of overseas destinations.
Despite an overall decline in sales, 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 latest 12 weeks, indicating that people were more comfortable going to physical shops and eating out again.
Healy added, "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 retained the largest share of the grocery market at 22.6%, with customers visiting the grocer more frequently and contributing an additional €37 million to its sales.
Shoppers made 21.1 trips on average in the latest 12 weeks, which was the highest frequency amongst all retailers, Kantar noted.
Tesco emerged second with a market share of 21.3%, followed by Dunnes Stores at 20.9%.
The market share of Lidl and Aldi stood at 13% and 12.6%, respectively.
Healy said, "During the 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."