Shoppers spend €316m on groceries in Ireland amid Covid-19 panic buying

Health and beauty sales rose by 35% during the week ending 8 March, Nielsen data reveals

Nielsen data from the week ending 8 March shows an increase of 2.4% on grocery spend compared to the previous week, and 7.6% versus the same week in 2019

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20 March 2020 | 0

Shoppers in Ireland spent €316m on groceries in the week ending 8 March 2020, an increase of 2.4% on grocery spend compared to the previous week, and 7.6% versus the same week in 2019, new data released today by Nielsen reveals.

This significant rise in grocery sales is attributed to increasing panic buying, amid health fears around the worldwide spread of the coronavirus disease Covid-19.

Household (17%) and health and beauty (15%) saw the biggest increase in sales, compared to the same period last year, according to Nielsen data for the last four weeks ending 8 March. These categories have risen by 31% and 35% respectively over the last one week period ending 8 March. Other categories that showed significant sales increase in Ireland included pet care (17%) in the last four weeks, rising by 19% in the last one week period. Ambient grocery – shelf-stable food – also grew 10% versus the same four week period in 2019, and 19% in the last one week.

In the latest four weeks to 8 March, Irish supermarkets saw a significant increase in cupboard staples, including pasta (26%), canned vegetables (25%), rice (9%) packet & tinned soup (22%) and canned beans (17%). Sales of toilet tissue have also risen by 19.1% compared to the same period in 2019.

Baby care is another area in which people are purchasing heavily, with the likes of baby milk (29%), baby food (22%) and disposable nappies (5.4%) all rising in the one week up to 8 March, compared to the same time last year.

As expected, many health and hygiene products have continued to experience a surge in sales. This includes hand sanitiser sales, which grew by over 1000% during the one week ending 8 March compared to the same period last year, reaching a peak of €113k. Meanwhile, sales of soap reached €818k in the same week, a 231% increase compared to last year. In the last four weeks, top selling hygiene products include disinfectant liquids (93%), antiseptic (100%) and household and personal cleaning items such as washing up liquid (14%) and household bleach (14%).

However, in the last week of Nielsen’s data set, fruit and vegetable produce (6.9%), bakery (4.7%), frozen (4.9%), chilled (7.3%), confectionery (5.7%) and alcohol (2.7%) all appear to be growing slower than the rest of the market in Ireland, due to the extreme over performance of other categories. Yet, it is likely that we will start to see stronger growth in these categories in the coming weeks as people will have plentiful supply of pantry necessities, and may resume purchasing some luxury items.

Karen Mooney, Ireland market leader at Nielsen, noted that panic buying appears to be at its height, with many retailers now implementing buying restrictions on products that are high in demand.

“However,” Mooney added, “given that many of the products that are seeing significant growth at the moment are non-perishable and non-expandable consumption, we expect to see a drop off in sales in the coming weeks as people stop panic buying and begin to use the stock that they have already purchased.”

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