The latest figures from data analyst Kantar show the grocery market declined by 3.9% in Ireland during the 12 weeks to August 8, 2021.

However, Emer Healy, retail analyst with Kantar, said that it was important to put this dip in perspective, as sales are being compared with a time of Covid-19 restrictions last year.

“Irish shoppers still spent €333.2 million more on take-home groceries than during this same period in 2019. This represents double-digit growth of 13.4 % in two years,” Healy said.

In the most recent four weeks of the 12-week spell to August 8, take-home grocery sales decreased by 0.9% year-on-year.

“People are enjoying getting out and about again – meeting up with friends and returning to their favourite restaurants – and that means they don’t need to buy as much food to eat at home,” Healy pointed out.

“Some of the best-selling categories during the Covid-19 lockdowns are now seeing the biggest sales drops. Sales of tea and coffee both fell by 8% as people have gradually got back to offices and can enjoy taking a break in coffee shops once again,” she added.

However, the reduction in groceries due to the reopening of hospitality is counterbalanced somewhat by staycations. People holidaying domestically rather then abroad resulted in a boost in some product categories.

Specifically, spending increased on soft drinks (which saw an increase of €7.7 million); savoury snacks (an increase of €664,000); and chilled burgers and grilling meats (an increase of €579,000).

In the 12-week period, online grocery sales dropped by 0.7%.

“Online shopping has been one of the most effective barometers of consumer confidence throughout the pandemic – when online orders decline, it shows that people are growing more comfortable to venture to physical shops and eat out again,” Healy explained.

She also pointed out: “Shoppers spent €917,000 less online, while their basket sizes went down by 4.4% this period. People are buying less but it’s worth noting that the number of people making an online order has actually held steady at 14% compared with last year.

“It looks like customers who were converted to digital in lockdown have enjoyed the convenience and service they’ve received and are sticking with it longer term.”

In terms of market share among the major retailers, SuperValu again captured the largest share, at 22.6%.

SuperValu saw a 5.8% increase in customer footfall, contributing to an additional €37 million to the retailers grocery sales.

SuperValu shoppers made 21.1 trips on average in the 12-week period, which was the highest frequency among all retailers.

Elsewhere, Tesco, Dunnes, Aldi and Lidl all saw an increase in customers.

“During lockdown, shoppers returned making big weekly shops and became increasingly loyal to one supermarket to feed their families,” Healy remarked.

“Now that everything is opening up again, they are happier to mix it up and pop into different shops and Tesco, Dunnes, Aldi and Lidl all saw new faces in store this period as a result,” she concluded.