Grocery’s best Christmas in 4 years

The Irish grocery market enjoyed its strongest Christmas period — in sales terms — for four years, last month, with total combined sales rising by 1.1% on a year-on-year basis.

New monthly figures, from consumer insights agency, Kantar Worldpanel, show that the main multiples — Tesco, Dunnes, SuperValu, Aldi and Lidl— saw their combined sales grow by 1.6% on an annualised basis. The latst data covers the 12-week period up to January 5.

“Growing confidence in the economy meant shoppers relaxed the purse strings this Christmas, visiting supermarkets more often in the seasonal period than last year,” according to Georgieann Harrington, insight director at Kantar.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, festive shoppers reached for the treats and sales of confectionery grew by 6%, crisps and snacks were up by 3% and soft drinks enjoyed a 2% sales growth,” she added.

In terms of individual market share, competition remains tight with less than two percentage points separating the big three retailers (Tesco, Dunnes and SuperValu) and the two German discounters finishing an already stellar year in strong fashion.

“The battle for market share looks set to continue well into 2015. With the top three retailers separated by the narrowest of margins, it really is all to play for in the coming months,” said Ms Harrington.

Out of the big Irish and UK players, SuperValu was the only one to actually see a rise in over-the-counter sales, during the period, with a slight 0.3% increase.

But the others saw their declines narrow; Tesco from a 3% till sale decline in the previous quarter to a 2% fall this time around and Dunnes seeing just a 0.1% decline in the past 12 weeks, compared to a 1.6% fall in the last survey.

Of the German discounters, Aldi saw a 12.2% year-on-year jump in till sales for the period under review, with Lidl noting a 15% rise. In market share terms, the two now command a combined 15.3% share of the Irish grocery sector.

Tesco still leads the way with a 25.4% share, with SuperValu now holding 25% and Dunnes 23.5%.

“Lidl and Aldi topped off an excellent year with sales growth of 15% and 12.2% respectively.

“A strong Christmas extends an impressive run that has seen each retailer enjoy double-digit sales growth for 14 successive months,” noted Ms Harrington.

SuperValu’s 0.3% sales increase, during the most recent period, was as a result of nearly three-quarters of all Irish households visiting its stores in the past 12 weeks, with 52,000 new shoppers enticed through its doors by its value-for-money positioning.


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