The rate of inflation of groceries at Irish supermarkets has fallen below 1% for the first time since the onset of the Covid pandemic, as the pace of growth of sales slows following a bonanza year.
Shoppers at supermarkets in the Republic — dominated by the big five of SuperValu, Dunnes, Tesco, Lidl, and Aldi — spent €3bn in the last 12 weeks, according to the latest survey by market researcher Kantar. That brings spending to €12.2bn over the past 52 weeks.
That is reflected, in particular, in the sales decline of 5.5% posted in the latest four weeks of the survey compared with the early weeks of the first lockdown a year ago.
Kantar said that online sales from supermarkets have nonetheless continued to grow since last March and still has a lot of headroom to grow further.
However, the pace of supermarket price inflation across the 30,000 grocery items Kantar surveys has slowed dramatically too. At 0.9%, it is the first time that Irish supermarket inflation has fallen below 1% since the pandemic and compares with a 2.2% inflation rate posted last August.
The big five supermarkets accounted for almost 90% of the €3bn spent in the latest 12 weeks.
“A year on from the start of the pandemic, lockdown is still having an impact on shopping habits and, over the past 12 weeks, the market continued to grow," said Kantar retail analyst Emer Healy.
"However, looking at the shorter-term picture, supermarket sales actually fell over the most recent four weeks, as people spent €59.3m less than in March 2020 when they were stocking up ahead of the first national lockdown," she said.
She said that sales are still 20% higher than before the onset of the pandemic, in 2019. Kantar believes the sales increases "will likely continue until pubs, restaurants, workspaces, and schools reopen and shoppers start moving spend on to food and drink out and about as well as in-home”.