March was the biggest month for grocery sales on record

Latest figures from Kantar show record demand as Ireland entered lockdown

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6 April 2020 | 0

The Irish grocery market experienced its busiest ever period over the 12 weeks to 22 March – increasing year-on-year sales by 10.1%.

According to the latest figures from Kantar, grocery sales reached €2.8 billion over the 12 week period. This exceeded the previous peak seen at Christmas 2019.

The four weeks to 22 March saw shopper spend increase by 27%, making March the biggest month of grocery sales ever recorded.

On average, households spent an additional €122 on groceries during the four weeks to 22 March. This growth was largely driven by shoppers making big trips. Last year, 15% of households made a shopping trip containing €120 or more of groceries – this year that figure almost doubled to 27%.

Personal hygiene products and non-perishable foods were at the top of the list for many shoppers. In the four weeks to 22 March, sales of hand soap rose by 300% and household cleaners were up 170%. Facial tissues and loo roll were also high in demand, with sales up by 140% and 86% respectively.

Food items with a long shelf life also saw a large uplift, while the sale of frozen and ambient foods increased by 32%. At 16%, fresh food experienced a more modest hike.

David Berry, managing director at Kantar, expects to see a shift in these figures over the coming months. “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.”

More households than ever before placed an online order in the four weeks to 22 March 2020, with approximately one in 10 households taking advantage of the service. This represents 25,000 more shoppers purchasing groceries online than last Christmas, the previous peak, and 54,000 more than the same period in 2019.

All the country’s main grocery retailers were simultaneously in growth over the 12 week period as sales were boosted by unprecedented levels of demand.

Dunnes, SuperValu and Tesco each saw sales increase by over 10%. Lidl was the fastest growing of all the retailers during the 12 weeks, boosting sales by 14.7% and increasing its market share to 12.3%.  Aldi matched Lidl’s market share and grew sales by 11.9%.

“All the major retailers have adapted to rapidly changing circumstances,” Berry continued, “with teams working hard to keep shelves stocked during an incredibly busy time.”

Berry commended the excellent work that retailers and their staff have done over this busy period. “Over the past month we have faced profound changes to our daily lives as a result of the need for social distancing, impacting the way we work, shop and socialise,” he said.

“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.”

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