With summer nights approaching, people took “full advantage of some fair weather and fired up the barbecue” with an additional €1.3 million being spent on chilled burgers and grills, according to data from Kantar.

The latest figures from Kantar for the 12 weeks ending March 21 show that Irish grocery market growth overall slowed to 8.4% year-on-year.

While shoppers spent €234.6 million more than in the same period last year, that figure is lower than in recent months, as annual comparisons are now being made against the record-breaking sales recorded ahead of the first lockdown in 2020.

In the four weeks to March 21, sales declined by 5.5% for that reason.

Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, explained: “A year on from the start of the pandemic, lockdown is still having an impact on shopping habits, and over the past 12 weeks the market continued to grow.

“However, looking at the shorter-term picture, supermarket sales actually fell over the most recent four weeks, as people spent €59.3 million less than in March 2020 when they were stocking up ahead of the first national lockdown.

“Even with March sales down compared to 2020, they remain almost 20% higher than in 2019.

“Two-year ending growth figures allow us to look at how the retailers are performing compared with what we would typically expect at this time of year, and the numbers show a strong increase in sales.

“This will likely continue until pubs, restaurants, workspaces and schools reopen and shoppers start moving spend on to food and drink out and about as well as in home.” 

Plenty of opportunities for people to treat themselves

Shoppers “didn’t let lockdown dampen their spirits this St. Patrick’s Day”, and raised a glass to the national holiday which helped alcohol sales grow by 25.8% over the 12 weeks.

Guinness specifically was bought by 10% of the Irish population, compared to 6% last year, which meant an extra 70,000 households took it home.

With summer nights fast approaching, people also took full advantage of some fair weather and fired up the barbecue. An additional €1.3 million was spent on chilled burgers and grills, with an extra €6.7 million of ice cream bought in the latest 12 weeks as well.

There were plenty of opportunities for people to treat themselves and their families this month, as Healy continued: “Time apart from our loved ones means that occasions like Mother’s Day are more significant this year than in the past.

“Shoppers are more willing to splash out and, as a result, sales of gift boxes of chocolate soared by €2.9 million in the most recent period.

“Early evidence also shows that Easter weekend was a big occasion, with 63% of people buying an egg before March 21, compared to 41% at the same time last year. That meant sales boomed by 124% with an additional €18.1 million spent.”  

Unlike the total market, online grocery shopping has shown no signs of slowing down, even compared to March last year. Shoppers spent an additional €25.5 million through digital platforms, with most of the major retailers now offering online delivery in some form.