Take-home grocery sales in Ireland rose by 17 per cent in the 12 weeks to the end of the year, new figures from Kantar show. A record-breaking €1.2 billion was spent on groceries in December, making it the busiest month ever as families navigated evolving lockdown restrictions and prepared for Christmas. More modest festivities did not hold back families.
Even though there was a temporary easing of restrictions on eating and drinking out in December, most Irish people still turned to the supermarkets to provide some sorely needed festive cheer. As an extraordinary year drew to a close, the average shopper spent €134 more on groceries in December than they did during the same time in the previous end of year.
The Wednesday, two days before Christmas Day, was the busiest shopping day of the year when almost half of the Irish population hit the supermarkets. But overall grocery spend was more spread out during the run up to Christmas than would normally be seen, as consumers with more time on their hands at home took the opportunity to prepare early.
Fewer guests to host meant smaller feasts and shoppers spent €1.2m less on whole turkeys compared with the same period last year, as many households favoured lesser cuts of meat. A total of €938,000 more went on turkey rolls, €398,000 extra on roast beef and €480,000 more on roast pork. Some festive favourites prevailed and sales of sprouts rose by 7.3 per cent.
Although not a traditional Christmas, shoppers still endeavoured to make it a merry one and to treat themselves after a tough year. Our collective sweet tooth saw an extra €6.7m spent on chocolate confectionery last month. Consumers also parted with €3m extra on cheese and, as we all raised a glass to the end of 2020, alcohol sales soared by 33 per cent.
Lidl was the fastest growing grocer this period, with its success starting in the alcohol aisles where sales grew by 70 per cent in the three months leading up to Christmas. Overall, Lidl gained 0.9 percentage points of share. Shoppers trading up resulted in an additional €1.6bn spent on branded products while sales of premium own label items jumped by 17.8 per cent.
With our usual festivities curtailed, Irish shoppers splashed out on household names and premium products to mark the occasion. Supporting Irish was the order of the day, with both Keoghs and Avonmore growing ahead of the market. Branded sales were strong at Aldi, where shoppers spent an extra €11.6m on well-known labels during the final 12 weeks.
Aldi held an 11.2 per cent share of the market and increased sales by 16.4 per cent year on year. Rounding out a strong year for online grocery, Irish households spent €133m through digital channels in the final quarter, while online orders accounted for 4.1 per cent of all grocery sales in December. That figure was only 2.8 per cent in December 2019.
New shoppers continue to make the move online. Kantar expects digital sales to go from strength to strength in the year ahead. Bolstered by their strong online presence, Tesco and SuperValu vie for the position of Ireland’s second biggest grocer with both on 22.1 per cent.
Shoppers visiting SuperValu more frequently, adding up to an extra 730,000 trips, helped the retailer to grow ahead of the market and narrow the gap with Dunnes. Meanwhile, consumers making bigger shops was the key driver of Tesco’s strong growth over the past 12 weeks. Dunnes holds the largest portion of the market at 22.5 per cent.
Shoppers spent more per trip in Dunnes, helping the grocer to grow sales by 11.4 per cent.