Dunnes Stores won the battle to secure the largest share of an increased €2.63bn that grocery shoppers spent in supermarkets over Christmas, seeing off a strong challenge from a resurgent Tesco, writes Eamon Quinn.
The festive spending spree covering the 12 weeks of Christmas to the end of December is key for grocers because it accounts for an outsized 25% of all spending in grocery stores during the year.
And new figures from international research firm Kantar Worldpanel Ireland show that a 3.6% increase in festive spending in supermarkets helped lift sales in 2017 to €10.49bn.
That amount includes home groceries only, while goods bought for on-the-go consumption are not included, the researcher said.
The top rankings in the Irish supermarket charts are closely bunched between three rivals and are separated by small fractions only. But even a small gain in market share can translate into many millions of euro in additional sales for a supermarket.
Following the surge in the value of the euro against sterling and because so many grocery products are shipped across the Irish Sea from Britain, the Irish supermarket wars last year were also influenced by falling prices of some grocery items.
Some experts have, however, questioned whether prices here should have fallen more steeply, given that value of sterling has plunged by over 15% since the UK voted to exit the EU in June 2016.
According to the Kantar figures, prices across a basket of 30,000 grocery items fell by 0.1% in the Christmas period from the previous festive period.
Dunnes was the No 1 supermarket this Christmas, securing a share of 23% of the €2.63bn in take-home grocery spend over the period. Building its share strongly to 22.8%, Tesco posted its strongest growth spurt for almost seven years, according to Kantar.
SuperValu was in third, with a share of 22.4%. The Kantar figures also show that discounter Lidl had a good Christmas, possibly at the expense of its direct rival Aldi.
Lidl had a share of 10.4%, climbing above Aldi, which underperformed growth in the market with a share of 10.3%.
The so-called multiples accounted for almost 89% of all supermarket sales over Christmas, with “other outlets” winning a share of just over 11%. Online grocers increased sales strongly, Kantar said. Overall, households spent an average of €1,532 over Christmas on groceries, said Kantar director David Berry, with “staple items” such as fruit and poultry, as well as wine, posting increases.