December grocery sales exceed one billion euros for the first time

The grocery market reached a new milestone in the Christmas weeks, as sales in December exceeded one billion euros for the first time.

The latest figures from Kantar show that, although sales growth slowed in the 12 weeks to December 29, the grocery market resisted difficult trading conditions to increase overall sales by 1.5% in 2018.

All major retailers achieved growth during the holiday season, but Kantar said alcohol sales fell by 10.5 million euros and buyers spent 5.3% less on beer and 2.2% less on wine.

Soft drink sales increased 2.7% as buyers opted for non-alcoholic alternative options.

Only SuperValu and Dunnes resisted the trend this year, increasing alcohol sales by 3.9% and 0.7% respectively.

Today’s figures from Kantar show that Dunnes maintained its position as the largest retailer in the country, and was the only supermarket that did not see a slowdown in growth.

Kantar noted that Christmas is typically Dunnes’ strongest season, as shoppers exchange more premium products. December 2019 was no different.

Dunnes secured a 23.6% market share in the last 12 weeks, 1.2 percentage points more than its average for the rest of the year.

SuperValu, which generally performs better during the summer, had a great Christmas boost and increased sales by 1.4%, slightly more than in the same period last year.

Tesco’s growth was the slowest with 0.1% and its market share fell to 22%. But Kantar said Tesco customers made an average of 16.2 trips to the store in the last period under review, compared to 15.7 in the previous year.

Aldi was the highest performing retailer at Christmas, with a 6.3% increase in sales, while Lidl’s market share of 10.9% was the highest during the holiday period.

Charlotte Scott, director of consumer information at Kantar, said the country’s supermarkets saw a less traditional Christmas this year with many of the usual seasonal classics falling out of favor.

“The number of people who bought turkey decreased by 3% and the cuts were not much better as sales of Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips and potatoes declined,” Scott said.

“It was a similar story in the aisles of desserts, since the value of mince pies was reduced by 13% and Christmas puddings by 10%. Ham resisted the trend, growing to 5% as that buyers combined it with their Christmas dinner, “he added.

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