Hand sanitiser sales skyrocket, Nielsen reports

Grocery sales in Ireland rose by 23 per cent when compared with the same time last year and by 16 per cent when compared to the previous week, the latest Nielsen data for week ending March 15 shows. The rise is attributed to more stockpiling during Covid-19, as shoppers shift their grocery buying from pantry preparation to preparing for quarantined living.

Hand sanitiser continues to fly off the shelves, with an enormous 2,412 per cent growth when compared with the same week last year and 67 per cent growth from the previous week – with a total spend of €188,000 on hand sanitiser alone – this despite shortages across Ireland. Panic buying also continues to impact toilet roll purchases.

Toilet roll sales grew by 181 per cent to €5.4m, outpacing the same week in 2019 by €3.5m.

Other products in the category seeing a lift in sales versus last year include soap (552 per cent), disinfectant liquids (348 per cent), rubber gloves (306 per cent) and vitamins and minerals, sales of which are up by 224 per cent. At €363m, the spend is only €3m below last year’s Christmas trading week ending December 22.


It equates to an average spend of €214 in the week per household, versus an average weekly spend of €176 in 2019. Nielsen data also shows that sales particularly skyrocketed in the health and beauty category, growing by 98 per cent to €15m. Consumers are prepping their homes for a long time indoors, with the household category growing by 81 per cent to €18.6m.

Ambient groceries – shelf-stable food – grew by 76 per cent to €37.2m, when compared to the same week last year. Alongside health, beauty and household, ambient grocery sales continue to grow as sales reach €37.2m – a figure over €16m higher than the average weekly spend in 2019. Pasta sales are up by 199% when compared to the same week in 2019.

Shoppers have also been stocking up on ambient pasta sauces, up by 125 per cent year on year. Meanwhile, Irish shoppers bought €4.3m worth of breakfast cereals – a week-on-week growth of over €1.3m. Other ambient products seeing a sharp sales uptake include rice, canned vegetables, ambient soup and baked beans.

Grocers are also beginning to see a rise in frozen food sales, with the category growing by 52 per cent  – with frozen pizzas, prepared fish and prepared poultry acting as key sales drivers – accounting together for almost half of the sales of frozen food. These and ambient grocery sales can be attributed to stockpiling and future-planning.

Although alcohol sales are also showing growth of 18 per cent year on year, it is behind the growth in other categories, although is steadily growing week on week, up a third. Meanwhile, confectionery has only grown by 5.7 per cent. The lower growth in confectionery may have something to do with a more health-conscious shopper mindset.

There may also be less impulse-buying as shoppers plan out future meals.

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