The average Irish household grocery bill has increased by €1,000 this year, according to new data.

Kantar has released its latest grocery figures for the period ending February 21, and they show that Irish shoppers have now spent an extra €2 billion on take-home groceries since the start of the pandemic.

Take-home grocery sales grew by 16.3% in the 12 weeks to February 21, with an even stronger growth during the past month at 17.7%, the highest level since November 2020, as shoppers spent an additional €151.1 million.

Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, said that as we approach a full year since the first national lockdown in Ireland, “we can see how the months of restaurant and bar closures, working from home and home-schooling have added up”.

€2 billion spent on take-home groceries

“All those extra meals and snacks at home have led to an extra €2 billion spent on take-home groceries, including Irish shoppers splashing out €7.6 million on tea and €19.5 million on instant coffee to get their fix at home,” Healy said.

February brought Valentine’s Day and Shrove Tuesday, and consumers “continued to make the most of events they could safely celebrate at home in lockdown”.

“They spent an additional €3.2 million on boxed chocolates to treat their loved ones in the past 12 weeks and sales of flour, eggs and syrup grew by 56%, 21% and 14% respectively as Pancake Day provided entertainment for all ages,” Healy added.

“Totting it all up, the average household grocery bill has increased by €1,000 this year.”

Online’s share of grocery market has ‘extraordinary uplift’

Online grocery sales had another record-breaking month, as shoppers ordered €63 million worth of take-home groceries, accounting for 6.3% of all sales.

“Online’s share of the grocery market has had an extraordinary uplift compared with the pre-pandemic level of 2.7%,” Healy continued.

Lockdown may well have converted some previously reluctant digital customers long-term – 241,500 people made an order in February, compared with 114,800 last year.

“They are also using services more often, completing 21.7% more digital orders a month.”

As schools began a phased reopening from the start of March, Irish shoppers are awaiting a timeline for the return of hospitality.

Once confirmed, those changes will impact take-home grocery sales in the coming months, Kantar notes.

“The 12-month milestone is significant for retailers as it means we start to compare sales against the record-breaking levels of the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and we will see year-on-year growth decline from next month as a result.”

Supermarket shares

SuperValu sits at the top of the table this month as it grew sales by 20.9% to hold a 22.3% share of the market – an increase of 0.9%. It was the only retailer to attract new shoppers into its stores and its customers traded up when they were there – spending €70 million more on branded goods than this time last year.

Dunnes increased its sales by 9.7% this period as its customers picked up extra items in store and continued to spend more per buyer than at any other retailer at €618.60.

Lidl was the fastest growing retailer at 21.8%, with basket sizes increasing by 14.9% year-on-year.

Aldi customers spent an additional €57.1 million this period, driving 13.4% growth. Tesco shoppers added an additional 3.6 items to their baskets this period, more than customers at any other retailer, and helped the grocer’s overall sales to rise by 18%.

Tesco maintains position as NI’s biggest grocer

Growth in the Northern Irish grocery market accelerated to 14.8% in the 52 weeks to February 21, according to Kantar. Over the shorter-term, sales grew by 12.7% in the latest 12 weeks.

“As we approach a full year since the start of restrictions in Northern Ireland, lockdowns have meant shoppers have made 20 fewer trips to the supermarket in the past 12 months,” Healy said.

They have needed to pick up extra items when they do visit and volume sales have increased by 18.6% compared with the previous year, picking up two additional items per trip on average.

“Tesco maintained its position as Northern Ireland’s biggest grocer, with 35.1% of the market this period.

“Sainsbury’s grew by 14.2% this period, as shoppers picked up more in store and boosted its overall sales by £78.7 million. It was a very similar picture at Asda, where customers increased their trip size by more than at any other retailer, up 28.1%, and total sales rose by 10.6%.”

Shoppers have “continued to look for ways to indulge at home during lockdown” and the latest 12 weeks of data saw the sales of alcohol boosted by 34% year-on-year.

“Confectionery and take-home savouries also grew ahead of the total market 18.9% and 17.4% year-on-year,” Healy added.