December grocery sales surpassed €1bn for first time

Staples such as bread, eggs and vegetables cost less in the run-up to Christmas 2014, compared to the previous year, due to tightening competition in the grocery sector

Aldi and Lidl both reached their highest ever festive market shares



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14 January 2020

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The Irish grocery market hit a new milestone over the Christmas period, as December sales eclipsed €1 billion for the first time on record.  The latest figures from Kantar show that although growth slowed in the 12 weeks to 29 December 2019, the market weathered difficult trading conditions to increase overall sales by 1.5% on last year.

All major retailers achieved growth over the festive season, albeit not necessarily as a result of typical Christmas favourites. Charlotte Scott, consumer insight director at Kantar, said: “The nation enjoyed a less traditional Christmas this year with many of the usual seasonal classics falling out of favour. The number of people buying turkey fell by 3% and the trimmings didn’t fare much better as sales of Brussel sprouts, carrots, parsnips and potatoes all declined. It was a similar story in the dessert aisles as the value of mince pies dropped by 13% and Christmas puddings by 10%. Ham resisted the trend, growing at 5% as shoppers paired it with their Christmas dinner.

“It was a relatively sober Christmas, as sales of alcohol dropped by €10.5 million,” Scott added. “Shoppers spent 5.3% less on beer and 2.2% less on wine. Only SuperValu and Dunnes bucked the trend, increasing alcohol sales by 3.9% and 0.7% respectively. Soft drinks sales rose by 2.7% as shoppers turned to alternative, alcohol-free options.”

Dunnes retained its position as Ireland’s largest retailer and was the only grocer which did not experience a slowdown in growth compared to last month. Christmas is typically Dunnes’ strongest season, as shoppers trade up to more premium products, and this year was no different. It achieved a market share of 23.6% in the latest 12 weeks, 1.2% higher than its average over the rest of the year.

Meanwhile SuperValu, which typically performs best over the summer, had a welcome Christmas boost and increased sales by 1.4% – slightly higher than it achieved in the same period last year.

Aldi was the strongest performing retailer over Christmas, with sales up 6.3%, while Lidl’s market share of 10.9% is its highest ever over the festive period. “Aldi and Lidl have increased their appeal among shoppers at Christmas and both reached their highest ever festive market shares,” Scott said. “While in previous years customers have chosen to do their seasonal shopping elsewhere, Aldi and Lidl found success in 2019 by expanding their ranges and encouraging big shops.”

Both Aldi and Lidl bucked the trend of falling prices across the sector and saw prices per pack increase during the period. This was down to a concerted push on brands and premium products, evidenced by the popularity of their premium own-label ranges, which outperformed competitors and grew by 9% at Aldi and 6% at Lidl.

Tesco’s growth was the slowest in the market at 0.1%, which saw it lose 0.3% of market share and fell to 22.0%. “Despite only marginal sales growth,” Scott added, “Tesco remained the nation’s second largest grocer as shoppers embraced its well-known brands and familiar layout over Christmas. Tesco customers made an average of 16.2 trips to store in the latest period, compared with 15.7 last year.”

Aldi’s best ever Christmas

Aldi revealed further details about its best ever Christmas trading in Ireland. The retailer reported its range of Christmas ham products proved  popular with sales in this category up 25%, year on year. Aldi’s Specially Selected range was likewise a key driver of this success with like for like sales up almost 17%, highlighting that Aldi’s customers indulged by trading up within their product ranges.

Aldi’s range of Bord Bia Assured Irish meat also performed well, with year-on-year sales up by 12%. According to Giles Hurley, CEO of Aldi UK & Ireland: “More customers than ever before shopped with us this Christmas because  they know Aldi offers unbeatable value on premium products and the lowest prices on festive essentials.

“Although we saw strong growth across all key categories,” Hurley added, “sales of our premium Specially Selected range surpassed expectations, as customers snapped up these products for a fraction of the price they would have paid elsewhere.”



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