Irish shoppers are getting ahead on preparations for the big day as 50% more shoppers have bought their Christmas turkey than at this point last year, according to the latest grocery market share figures from Kantar.

Meanwhile, the data shows a bigger neglect of Halloween celebrations this year, as sales of pumpkins in supermarkets dropped by 15.5%.

People were in the Christmas spirit “unseasonably early” last month, as take-home Irish grocery sales growth accelerated to 18.8% over the period ending November 1, as the national lockdown “came into force” and shoppers spent over €1 billion in supermarkets.

‘Grocery sales soar as lockdown sets in and shoppers seek Christmas comforts’

Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, said that with dining out “officially off the table”, and families preparing more meals at home, October was the biggest month for grocery sales since the height of the previous lockdown in June.

“Irish shoppers spent over €1 billion on take-home groceries in October, €161.6 million more than last year. It all feels a far cry from August, when restrictions on eating and drinking out were eased, and the average monthly grocery bill was €200 lower,” Healy said.

Across the board, growth was driven by shoppers adding a “couple of extra essentials” to their baskets.

Tesco customers picked up an average of three additional items per shop over the past 12 weeks, the biggest increase in trip volume among all the retailers. The grocer grew sales by 14.8% to hold a 21.2% market share.

As the end of the year approaches, consumers are accepting that seasonal traditions and festivities will look a little different this year, according to Healy.

She continued: “Halloween was certainly a quieter affair this year and, with trick-or-treating out of the question, sales of multipack sweets declined by 40% compared with October 2019.

“Sales of pumpkins also dropped by 15.5% as households had less need for the usual welcoming Jack O’Lanterns.”

However, according to Healy, it is not all doom and gloom.

“Lockdown has led some Irish shoppers to get into the Christmas spirit unseasonably early,” she said.

They are getting ahead on preparations for the big day and 50% more shoppers have bought their Christmas turkey than had at this point last year, while sales of mince pies are up 36.8% and boxed chocolate sales by 44%.

Healy says that as people look for ways to treat themselves at home, Lidl customers spent an additional 50% on branded products in the latest 12 weeks.

The grocer once again achieved the strongest growth among the retailers over the past three months, growing by 21.1% to hold a 12.7% share of the market.

Aldi’s sales grew by 11.7% this period, primarily driven by an increase in spend per buyer and shoppers adding more items to their baskets.

Online grocery sales continue to soar, rising by 90% year-on-year in the latest four weeks.

“Online grocery continues to set new records, with almost 255,000 shopping through digital channels in October,” Healy continued.

“New converts to online grocery contributed an additional €30.8 million to the market in the past month as tighter restrictions were introduced. Shoppers also increased the size of their digital trolleys by 9.6%.”

Chilled-convenience foods proved popular at all retailers

Dunnes takes the top spot this period and holds the largest share of the market at 22.2%.

Its sales were particularly strong in Dublin, where shoppers have been living with increased restrictions since mid-September and spent an additional €38.8 million at the retailer in the latest 12 weeks. Grocery sales growth in the capital was the fastest across all regions this period.

Chilled-convenience categories like pizza and ready meals proved popular at all the retailers and, according to Kantar’s research, this was particularly true at SuperValu – which boosted sales of the cosy night-in favourites by 15% year-on-year. Sales at the grocer grew by 18% this period.