Sales growth in the Irish grocery market slowed to 8.4% year-on-year in the latest 12 weeks ended 21 March, according to the latest figures from Kantar.
In this period, shoppers spent €234.6 million more than in the corresponding period last year.
In the four weeks to 21 March, sales declined by 5.5% compared to the record-breaking sales witnessed ahead of the first lockdown in the same period in 2020.
Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, commented, "A year on from the start of the pandemic, lockdown is still having an impact on shopping habits, and over the past 12 weeks, the market continued to grow.
"However, looking at the shorter-term picture, supermarket sales actually fell over the most recent four weeks, as people spent €59.3 million less than in March 2020 when they were stocking up ahead of the first national lockdown."
Healy also pointed out that sales in March were almost 20% higher than in 2019, indicating strong growth in grocery retail sales over a two-year period.
Online shopping continues to accelerate, with people spending €25.5 million more online than they did in the same four weeks last year, Kantar said.
Despite restrictions, Ireland celebrated St Patrick's Day at home with gusto, boosting alcohol sales by 25.8% in the 12 weeks to 21 March.
With summer nights fast approaching, people also took full advantage of some fair weather and fired up the barbecue, Kantar said.
Shoppers spent an additional €1.3 million on chilled burgers and grills and €6.7 million extra on ice cream in the latest 12 weeks.
Healy explained, "Time apart from our loved ones means that occasions like Mother's Day are more significant this year than in the past. Shoppers are more willing to splash out, and as a result, sales of gift boxes of chocolate soared by €2.9 million in the most recent period.
"Early evidence also shows that Easter weekend was a big occasion, with 63% of people buying an egg before the 21 March, compared to 41% at the same time last year. That meant sales boomed by 124%, with an additional €18.1 million spent."
SuperValu retained the top position among grocery retailers, growing ahead of the market in the past 12 weeks, with sales up 13.9% and a 22.4% market share.
The retailer saw a significant increase in basket sizes in this period.
It was also the only retailer to also see an increase in store visitors, which contributed an additional €2.9 million to its overall performance.
Tesco emerged as the second-largest retailer in Ireland, with a 21.6% of market share.
Large trips contributed to its success as people added an average of three packs per trip to their trolleys, helping the retailer grow overall sales by 9.9%.
Elsewhere, sales in Dunnes Stores grew by 3.6%, and its market share stood at 21.3%.
Lidl saw strong growth of 12.3% over the 12 weeks and increased its market share to 12.7%.
Aldi currently holds 12% market share. Sales grew by 6.2% over the past year, with the retailer making particular gains in Munster, where sales increased by 7.7%.
© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.