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March was the biggest month for grocery sales on record

Sales of hand soap rose by 300% and household cleaners were up by 170% in the past 12 weeks.

Shelves pictured in Tesco's Newbridge store after the Taoiseach announced the first stage of coronavirus restrictions, 12 March.
Shelves pictured in Tesco's Newbridge store after the Taoiseach announced the first stage of coronavirus restrictions, 12 March.
Image: Rollingnews.ie

IRISH SUPERMARKETS EXPERIENCED the busiest month of grocery sales “ever recorded” in March due to unprecedented levels of demand fueled by the coronavirus crisis, new figures show.  

The latest Kantar Worldpanel supermarket shares show that grocery sales reached €2.8 billion in the last 12 weeks – topping last year by €250 million and exceeding the previous peak seen at Christmas 2019.  

Shoppers first raced to supermarkets on 12 March after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the closure of schools, creches, and universities until 29 March – those restrictions have since been extended and tightened

Government officials and supermarkets pleaded with the public to not stockpile or panic-buy after pictures of empty supermarket shelves and long checkout queues began circulating online. 

Supermarkets have since implemented social distancing measures and dedicated shopping sessions for older people. 

 

“Retailers and their staff have risen to an enormous challenge since restrictions on movement were announced on 12 March.  They have been on the frontline as households across Ireland prepared to spend more time at home, with more mouths to feed,” David Berry, managing director at Kantar, said. 

The average household spent an additional €122 on groceries during the four weeks to 22 March, largely driven by shoppers making bigger trips, according to Berry. 

It is estimated that 27% of Irish households made a shopping trip containing €120 or more worth of groceries – compared to 15% of household last year. 

According to Kantar, sales of hand soap rose by 300% and household cleaners were up by 170% in the four weeks to 22 March.  Facial tissues and toilet paper were also in demand, with sales up by 140% and 86% respectively. 

The sales of frozen food and items with a long shelf life increased by 32% while the demand for fresh food increased by 16% over the last four weeks. 

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“While we’d expect sales to remain strong in the coming weeks and months, there will likely be a rebalancing of sales of fresh and non-perishable items as shoppers with full freezers and cupboards replenish fresh supplies,” said Berry. 

Screenshot 2020-04-06 at 13.45.08 Source: Kantar Worldpanel

Dunnes Stores retained its position as Ireland’s most popular supermarket but Lidl was the fastest-growing of all big retailers during the 12 weeks. 

Dunnes, SuperValu and Tesco each saw sales increase by just over 10%. All three grocers hold almost equal market share, Dunnes’ takes the largest portion at 22.3%, with SuperValu and Tesco following closely at 21.3%. 

Lidl’s sales went up by 14.7% and its market share increased to 12.3%. Aldi matched Lidl’s market share and grew sales by 11.9%.

Kantar monitors the household grocery purchasing habits of 5,000 demographically representative households in the Republic of Ireland.

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Adam Daly

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