Take-home grocery sales in Ireland increased by 17.2% in the 12 weeks to Sunday, April 19, as shoppers adjusted to life under lockdown, according to the latest figures from Kantar.

While grocery sales are strong, retailers will have felt the effects of social distancing restrictions on food-on-the-go purchasing and other non-grocery categories.

David Berry, managing director for Ireland at Kantar, explained: “It’s been a challenging few weeks and we’ve all been grateful for how hard the grocery retailers have been working to keep us fed and watered.

In the absence of dinners with friends and lunch on the go, many more meals are being eaten in the home and grocery sales have risen accordingly.

“But social distancing means people are less likely to be buying categories like clothes, food on the go, and general merchandise – which means, for some retailers, the overall picture will be more modest,” the director added.

Online grocery shopping

Demand for online grocery has soared as people try to limit their contact with others and 10% of Irish households received an online grocery delivery in the past four weeks compared with 6% last year.

An additional €20.6 million was spent online this month, with the number of retired people getting groceries delivered doubling over the past 12 weeks.

This, Berry noted, indicated the take up of delivery slots among more vulnerable groups.

Continuing, the managing director said: “People are turning to cooking from scratch as a good way to keep their families entertained at home.

“Sales of ready meals are in decline but 50% of Irish households bought baking supplies in the past four weeks, with flour up 52% and sugar up 43%.”

Grocery growth

In the most recent four weeks, year-on-year grocery growth slowed slightly from March levels to 22.5% and, as people followed Government advice to stay at home, the average household visited the grocers 19 times, two times fewer than the same period last year.

Berry said: “In an effort to get everything they need in one go and cater for all the additional meals and snacks eaten at home, shoppers are adding an extra four items to their baskets each visit, increasing their monthly grocery bill by €118 on average.

The change in shopper behaviour adds up to an extra €440 million spent on groceries in the past 12 weeks – but this additional spend is impacting individual retailers in different ways.

Lidl was the fastest growing of all the retailers during the full 12-week period, boosting sales by 22.1% and increasing its market share to 12%, while Aldi grew by 15.6% to hold an 11.8% share.

Source: Kantar

Source: Kantar

In the shorter term, SuperValu’s large store estate saw it benefit from shoppers choosing to visit outlets closer to home, and it was the only retailer not to experience reduced footfall during the past four weeks.