However, the Kantar Worldpanel Ireland figures show the sharp 11% rise in the value of the euro against sterling since the UK’s Brexit vote almost a year ago continues to weigh on grocers, as prices have fallen.
Grocers source many products from the UK.
Deflation also meant there were fewer promotions on offer and the currency-driven price declines will likely continue for some time, Kantar said.
Grocery market prices fell by 0.3% for the 12 weeks to April 23, the survey found.
“With the rate of deflation in the grocery market falling even further, we expect to see this trend stick around,” said Kantar director David Berry.
CSO figures show that in March the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages rose 0.3% in the month and slumped 2.6% from March 2016, while alcohol and tobacco prices fell 0.3% in the month and rose 0.5% in the year.
Grocers, which include Tesco, Lidl and Aldi, and “other grocery outlets”, such as Marks & Spencer, Spar, Centra, as well as greengrocers, butchers and cross-border shops, compete for a grocery market which is worth about €10.3bn annually.
In the latest 12 week period, €2.4bn worth of groceries was sold, up 2.3% from the same period a year earlier, according to Kantar.
Increasing its market share to 22.8% from a year earlier, SuperValu kept its No 1 spot as the largest grocer. Kantar said that of the ‘big five’, SuperValu was also the only grocer to attract more customers into its stores in the last year. Dunnes posted a significant rise in sales in the year to secure second place, with a 22.1% share of the market in the latest survey.
Kantar said the sales rise from Dunnes was “partially down to consumers adding more to their baskets”.
It says Dunnes shoppers spend an average of €40 on a shopping trip, €17 higher than the market average.
Tesco was the only large multiple to post a decline in sales by value in the year and was in third place, with a 21.6% share. In fourth, Lidl fought off competition and with a share of 11.3% helped keep Aldi pegged at 11% of the market in the latest 12-week period.
The combined share of Lidl and Aldi had previously put them in the top place seven times in the last 14 surveys. All ‘other outlets’ posted a share of 11.2% of the grocery market that was little changed from a year earlier.
Separately, the latest survey by KBC Ireland and the Economic and Social Research Institute showed consumer confidence held steady last month.
“The details of the survey suggest a mood of cautious optimism still prevails but there is also a strong sense of an upswing that is being earned or even endured rather than enjoyed,” said KBC chief economist Austin Hughes.
“The April survey suggests ‘macro’ concerns eased as the immediate fallout from Brexit and Trump- related concerns has been less than expected.
“However, with only one in four consumers reporting an improvement in their household finances, the scope for any substantial feel-good driven pick-up in consumer spending appears limited,” Mr Hughes said.