Less alcohol bought at Christmas but binges on bread, sweets, and frozen food

Less alcohol bought at Christmas but binges on bread, sweets, and frozen food

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.”

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