Irish take-home grocery sales dropped by 7.3% year on year in the latest 12 week period, to 20 March 2022, the latest data from Kantar has revealed.
However, sales were still up by 1.3% compared with the same period in 2020, just prior to the introduction of lockdown measures.
In the latest four-week period, sales declined by 7.7%, with Irish shoppers spending €78.2 million less on take-home groceries, Kantar noted.
Emer Healy, senior retail analyst at Kantar commented, “All our remaining COVID-19 restrictions have eased across Ireland and that’s making its mark on grocery sales.
“Not only are people heading back to the office, but they’re also enjoying returning to pubs, cafés, and restaurants, and as a result are picking up more food while on the go, rather than from the supermarkets.”
Grocery inflation stood at 3.7% in this period – the highest level since October 2013 – as the end of COVID-19 restrictions coincided with price increases across the high street.
Healy said, “As spiralling costs bite at the heels of retailers and shoppers, supermarket prices are being pushed up. The number of products sold on promotion has dropped by 5.7% as grocers look to mitigate supply chain pressures, and we’ve seen a marked increase in the average price of staples like bread, butter and toilet paper over the last 12 weeks.”
Inflation has replaced the pandemic as the main driver of change in consumer behaviour in Ireland, with shoppers seeking cheaper alternatives.
Healy explained, “Private label’s share of the grocery market is on the rise and has grown by 1.2% since last year. Retailers’ own lines now account for 46.3% of total grocery sales. Headlines around shortages of pasta and flour have also seen sales of those products soar, with both categories boosted by 22% and 30% respectively during March.”
Dunnes Stores retained its position as Ireland’s largest grocer with a 22.4% market share in the latest period.
SuperValu overtook Tesco to claim second position, with the retailers' market shares at 21.6% and 21.3%, respectively.
Lidl’s market share stood at 13.0%, followed by Aldi at 12.4%.
Emer Healy stated, “The competition between the grocers is ramping up as people hunt for the best deals. Those grocers with strong messaging on lower average prices and promotional offers are best placed to come out on top.”
Since 2018, the online channel's share of the market has more than doubled, growing by 3.1 percentage points, data showed.
This growth was driven by couples without children, with online shopping in this demographic nearly doubling from 14% in 2018 to 26% in March 2022.
According to Kantar, the online channel will account for 6.6% of total grocery sales by 2024.
“It’s becoming clearer which pandemic grocery habits are here to stay. The growth of online shopping has been one of the most staggering shifts to shopper behaviour in recent memory, with all retailers now offering some form of online shopping,” Healy noted.
Since 2019, sales of home baking and home cooking ingredients saw 14.6% and 20% growth, respectively.
The sale of hot beverages increased by 23% over the latest period, while liquid soap sales soared 36% compared with 2019.