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Grocery sales have slowed compared to the peak of the pandemic as shoppers begin returning to pre-Covid habits

As restrictions began to lift, customers moved away from a pattern of large, infrequent shops.

Image: Shutterstock/Lin Xiu Xiu

SPENDING ON GROCERIES has dipped to its lowest levels since February, stalling a spike in sales growth that was reported when Covid-19 restrictions were brought to Ireland.

New figures released by retail analyst Kantar show that the rate of growth of take-home Irish grocery sales in the twelve weeks leading up to 9 August has slowed to 18% year on year.

In a three-month period leading up to mid-May, grocery sales had grown by 25.4% – the fastest rate of growth for the sector in 15 years.

Over the four weeks leading up to 9 August, €930 million was spent on groceries around the country – the lowest grocery spend recorded by Kantar since February.

Meanwhile, online sales have continued to rise, with a 125% increase in online sales year on year bringing an additional €75.1 million to the online market.

Online sales held a record 4.6% market share of total sales over a twelve week period in the summer.

In comparison, in the weeks approaching 17 May, online sales were 76% higher than the previous year.

Kantar retail analyst Emer Healy said that “with restrictions on movement and eating out lifting, grocery spend is climbing down from the record-breaking heights we saw in previous months”.

“A year-on-year comparison shows that shoppers still visited stores four fewer times over the 12 weeks, but trends are less stark than they were at the peak of lockdown,” she said.

According to Healy, the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions as Ireland began to reopen meant that shoppers were moving away from large, infrequent shops.

“People spent approximately €5 less per trip over the past four weeks compared with April, picking up fewer items in store as they start to return to pre-Covid-19 habits,” Healy said.

Supermarkets

Lidl, Aldi, and Supervalu all reported an increase in sales higher than the average growth for take-home grocery sales.

Sales grew by 18.4% in Aldi, 23.5% in Supervalu, and 25% in Lidl.

Aldi secured its highest ever market share, holding 12.8% of the grocery market.

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In contrast, Dunnes Stores saw just 11% growth in sales, while Tesco sales grew by 15.4%.

A 77% increase in the sales of logs and firelighters in July has been attributed to the emphasis on staycationing this summer.

“The bad weather didn’t dampen spirits and sales of firelighters and logs were boosted by people’s new summer plans, growing by 77% over the latest four weeks as we enjoyed barbecues and camp fires,” Healy said.

“Hotel breakfasts were swapped for homemade alternatives and eggs, bacon and sausages all grew ahead of the market in the same period.”

Take-home alcohol sales have continued to grow compared to last year, but not at as rapid a rate as during the height of Covid-19 restrictions.

“Alcohol sales are up by 56% over the past 12 weeks, but this represents a significant slowdown from the 76% growth rate we saw last month, as people get used to new rules and are more inclined to socialise out of home,” Healy said.

Alcohol sales between mid-April and mid-May had seen significant growth of 93% compared to last year.

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