Irish shoppers spent €1.2 million less on whole turkeys in December

Fewer guests to host for Christmas dinner meant a smaller-scale feast, with Irish shoppers spending €1.2 million less on whole turkeys over the four weeks up to Christmas, compared with last year.

The latest figures from market research company Kantar show that “traditional turkey was off the menu for many this Christmas, as lots of Irish households favoured smaller cuts of meat”.

€938,000 more was spent on turkey rolls, €398,000 extra was spent on roast beef and an additional €480,000 was spent on roast pork in December.

However, some classic festive favourites prevailed, and sales of sprouts were up by 7.3%.

It is worth noting, as AgriLand reported mid-November, 50% more shoppers had bought their Christmas turkey than at that point in 2019.

Record grocery sales as Ireland marks a Christmas like no other

Take-home grocery sales in Ireland rose by 17% in the 12 weeks to December 27, the latest figures show.

A record-breaking €1.2 billion was spent on groceries in December, making it the “busiest month ever” as families navigated evolving lockdown restrictions and prepared for Christmas.

Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, comments: “Christmas was certainly different this year, but pared back festivities didn’t stop Irish families from looking for ways to keep spirits high.

“Even though there was a temporary easing of restrictions on eating and drinking out in December, most of us still turned to the supermarkets to provide some sorely needed festive cheer.

As an extraordinary year drew to a close, the average shopper spent €134 more on groceries in December than they did last year.

“Wednesday, December 23, was the busiest shopping day of the year when almost half of the Irish population hit the supermarkets.”

Although not a traditional Christmas, shoppers still “endeavoured to make it a merry one and to treat themselves after a tough year”, Healy says.

“Our collective sweet tooth saw an extra €6.7 million spent on chocolate confectionery this December,” she continues.

“We also parted with €3 million extra on cheese and, as we all raised a glass to the end of 2020, alcohol sales soared by 33%.”

Supermarket shares

Lidl stood out among the retailers as the fastest growing grocer this period, with its success starting in the alcohol aisles – where sales grew by 70% in the three months leading up to Christmas.

Overall, Lidl gained 0.9 percentage points of share this period.

Shoppers trading up resulted in an additional €1.6 billion spent on branded products this year, while sales of premium own label items soared by 17.8% over the most recent 12 weeks.

Healy says that with the usual festivities having been curtailed, Irish shoppers “splashed out on household names and premium products to mark the occasion”.

“Supporting Irish was the order of the day, and both Keogh’s and Avonmore grew ahead of the market over the festive period,” she says.

“Branded sales were particularly strong at Aldi, where shoppers spent an additional €11.6 million on well-known labels during the 12 weeks to December 27.”

Aldi holds an 11.2% share of the market this period and increased its sales by 16.4% year-on-year.

Rounding out a strong year for online grocery, Irish households spent €133 million through digital channels over the past 12 weeks.

“The popularity of online grocery shopping is no flash in the pan, and digital orders accounted for 4.1% of all grocery sales in December,” Healy continues.

“That figure was only 2.8% in December 2019, hammering home an impressive year in terms of sales and capacity growth.

“New shoppers continue to make the move online, and we expect digital sales to go from strength to strength in the year ahead.”

Tesco and SuperValu neck and neck

Bolstered by a strong online presence, Tesco and SuperValu are neck and neck for the position of Ireland’s second biggest grocer, with both holding a 22.1% market share this period.

Shoppers visiting SuperValu more frequently, adding up to an extra 730,000 trips, helped the retailer to grow ahead of the market and narrow the gap with Dunnes.

Meanwhile, consumers making bigger shops was the key driver of Tesco’s strong growth over the past 12 weeks.

Dunnes holds the largest portion of the market at 22.5%. Shoppers spent more per trip in Dunnes than in any other retailer, helping the grocer to grow its overall sales by 11.4%.