The grocery sector was one of few bright spots for the Irish retail industry in the second quarter of the year, according to the latest edition of the Grant Thornton Retail Excellence Retail Productivity Review.
The study found that the grocery sector posted a 17.9% increase in like-for-like sales in the quarter, compared to a 29.2% like-for-like decrease for the entire industry.
Behind The Numbers
In April of this year, grocery reported a like-for-like increase of 9.7%, with growth accelerating as the quarter progressed – like-for-like sales in May were up 19.3%, and 24.1% in June.
This compares to a cross-industry like-for-like decline of 47.26% in April and of 35.89% in May, although June did show signs of a turnaround, with like-for-like sales up marginally (+0.03%).
The demand for groceries surged in March as people responded to the start of the lockdown period by ‘panic buying', while the sector continued to trade strongly through quarter 2 as restaurants remained closed,' Grant Thornton said in its report.
Across The Categories
The Grant Thornton Retail Excellence Retail Productivity Review monitors overall industry performance and sectoral performance, aggregating and analysing data from over 4,500 retail stores across Ireland.
As well as grocery, other retail sectors to see growth in the quarterly period included garden centres (+4.4%), agri retail (+20.9%), consumer electronics (+38.5%), home appliances (+23.3%) and IT/computing (+70%).
Online shopping doubled in the period (+200%), with more and more retailers embracing online channels.
However, by and large, the quarter was a story of significant declines, with clothing sectors particularly hit – footwear was down 72.9%, ladies fashion fell 76.6%, menswear dropped 78.6%, childrenswear was down 72.6% and lingerie was down 79.3%, according to the data.
Elsewhere, the hot beverage sector saw like-for-like sales fall by more than four fifths (-82%).
According to Grant Thornton, the Irish retail industry saw the 'sharpest decline in sales in living memory' in the quarter, as all non-essential retail closed across the state for nearly three months.
The demand for groceries surged in March as people responded to the start of the lockdown period by ‘panic buying’ and the sector continued to trade strongly through quarter 2 as restaurants remained closed,' Grant Thornton said in its report.
"The results of the Grant Thornton Retail Excellence Productivity Review [...] indicate the full effect that COVID-19 has had on retail sales," commented Damian Gleeson, partner in charge, Grant Thornton.
"With the temporary closure of many high street retailers, due to public health advice, sales in a number of sectors have taken a significant hit. Not surprisingly there was a significant move to online sales during the shutdown and this will likely accelerate and cement the continuing move in this direction."
Grant Thornton welcomed the recent announcement of a stimulus package for struggling businesses, in order to help offset these declines, but it said that 'more support will be needed'.
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.