The sparkle went out of the alcohol trade over Christmas as we bought less booze than usual and opted more for non-alcohol drinks, according to the latest consumer survey.
We also binged on bread, sweets, and frozen food. And, in what retail researcher Nielsen says is a sign Irish people are increasingly “humanising” their pets, we spent an extra 5.2% on pet food.
Grocery spend hit €1.2bn in the four weeks to December 29, 2019, as shoppers spent an additional €32.5m over the Christmas period in comparison to the same time last year.
Thanks to Christmas falling on a Wednesday, shops saw a sharp increase in grocery sales closer to Christmas day, rising by 15.3% in the week ending December 29, in comparison to the same period in 2018.
As a result, shoppers spent 2.7% more on groceries over the four-week period than they did during Christmas 2018, going from an average spend per household of €165 on groceries to €182 in December 2019.
The best performing category was pet food, followed by frozen food, which was up 4.3%, and bakery up 4.1%. Confectionery rose 3%.
Alcohol, which is usually an area of strong growth over Christmas, saw a decline of 2.9%, with sparkling wine and champagne seeing the biggest decline of 11.3%.
Total beer value sales also declined over the four-week period, with lager down 3.3%, cider down 4.5% and stout down 6.8%.
Whiskey was the only product in the spirits category in which sales grew, up 4.3%. However gin, which had 29% growth in 2018, fell 0.3%.
In contrast, sales in non-alcoholic and low- alcoholic beer rose 27.2% in comparison to December 2018, valuing the market at €795,000 in the last four weeks to December 29.
Karen Mooney, Ireland market leader at global measurement and data analytics company Nielsen, said: “There appears to be a shift in shopping behaviour, as Irish consumers opted to spend less on alcohol and more on low or no-alcohol products, which could be a reflection on wellness trends.”
She said we are also choosing to invest more heavily in our pets.
“This is a reflection on consumer trends towards pet ‘humanisation’, as we look to treat our pets more as family members and spend more on them.”