Irish shoppers balance new year health kicks with beating lockdown blues

Take-home grocery sales in Ireland grew 16.4% in the 12 weeks to 24 January 2021, as the new year brought renewed restrictions on eating and drinking out of home.
08 February 2021
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Emer Healy 2020

Business Development Manager, Worldpanel Division , Ireland

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The latest figures from Kantar show that take-home grocery sales in Ireland grew by 16.4% in the 12 weeks to 24 January 2021. Growth edged up over the past month to 16.8% as the new year brought a full month of restrictions on eating and drinking out of home.

January wasn’t quite the fresh start we hoped for, and ongoing lockdowns meant we continued to rely on supermarkets to keep us fed. With restaurants and bars closed for the past four weeks, Irish shoppers spent an extra €142.8 million on take-home groceries compared with last year.

Many of us like to kick off a new year with good intentions, but this January shoppers clearly struggled to balance the usual resolutions and health kicks with a need to treat themselves and lift their spirits in lockdown. Veganuary took a bit of a back seat, and 15,000 fewer Irish households purchased meat-free alternatives this month, driving a 5.2% decline in sales compared with last year. Some people did have a crack at Dry January, and sales of non-alcoholic beer soared by 84% year on year. Sales of chocolate and crisps grew by 26% and 40% this month.

With the return of home schooling in January, households with children spent €172 more on groceries in the latest four weeks. Parents and children once again found themselves working side-by-side at kitchen tables, and that means more mouths to feed throughout the day. Busy families turned to child-friendly breakfast and lunch options, parting with an additional €4.5 million on cereals, €3.9 million extra on yogurt, and €7.8 million more on cheese.

January also brought uncertainty about the impact of Brexit. All eyes have been on our supermarket shelves following the Brexit deal. We have seen some impact from the temporary disruption in the fresh fruit aisles and sales of tropical fruit, strawberries, and soft fruit all fell this month as shoppers struggled to get their hands on imported produce. But there has also been a boost for homegrown Irish staples and sales of vegetables have increased by 18.5% in the latest four weeks. Stable grocery inflation of 1.6% in January also suggests that shoppers aren’t feeling an additional pinch on their wallets just yet.

As people continue to spend as much time at home as possible, 12% of Irish shoppers purchased groceries online in the first four weeks of 2021. Sales of groceries through digital channels reached a record-breaking market share this month, accounting for 5.2% of grocery sales in January – almost doubling from 2.7% a year ago. 

Bolstered by their online presence, Tesco and SuperValu boosted sales by 16.5% and 18.5% respectively. While both retailers achieved sales growth through larger shops, it was Tesco that saw the biggest increase in trip size among all the grocers this period as shoppers added on average 3.5 more items to their trolleys. 

Both Aldi and Lidl announced thousands of new jobs in Ireland this month. Lidl continued to see the strongest growth of all the retailers and grew sales by 25.6% as shoppers spent an additional €77.9 million in store. Aldi held a 11.3% share of the market this period, with its success driven by shoppers adding more items to their baskets.  

Dunnes is top of the table with the largest share of the market this period at 22.6%, as visitors to the grocer continued to spend the most in the store.

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