A bumper Christmas for SuperValu

SUPERVALU was the big winner in the Irish grocery market over Christmas with its spread of stores faring best in the near Arctic conditions.

Supervalu was the most improved performer over the festive season, growing ahead of the market at 3% for the first time in nine months and increasing its market share to 19.9%.

According to figures from market information network Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending December 26, 2010, Tesco increased its market share by over one point, to 27.2%, compared with last Christmas.

The Irish grocery market remained in growth for the latest period at 2.1%, slightly ahead of the previous period when it was 1.6%.

With inflation falling to 3.9% from a previous high of 4.2%, fewer consumers traded down in December compared to November, keeping the market in growth, according to the figures.

Commercial director at Kantar Worldpanel, David Berry, said: “SuperValu performed well over the festive season and this is reflected in the strong performance in the final four weeks before Christmas. SuperValu may have benefited from its local stores as the adverse weather conditions encouraged many people to shop locally rather than risk getting stuck further afield.”

There were contrasting performances for the discounters this Christmas with Aldi hitting growth of 22.9%, increasing its sales by €15 million.

It saw strong sales in alcohol, ambient food and in the fresh and chilled sectors. Lidl’s growth slowed from 9.4% in the last period to 6.7% in the run-up to Christmas.

Premium retailer Superquinn had a less prosperous Christmas, recording a dip in its market share from 6.4% to 6.1%.

“Traditionally shoppers trade up to premium ranges in the run-up to Christmas and Superquinn would usually benefit from this trend. However, household incomes in Ireland were increasingly squeezed towards the end of last year, which impacted on Superquinn’s sales at Christmas,” said Mr Berry.

Sales of branded products are usually boosted at Christmas, but this trend was reversed in December with own label ranges growing in value by 5% and branded lines remaining flat.

SuperValu marketing director, Ray Kelly, said: “In the five weeks leading up to Christmas, we put together a package of offers whereby consumers could save an average of €156 on their Christmas food shopping. Additionally, all of our Christmas hams were sold at half price.”

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