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December grocery sales pass €1 billion for first time

The grocery market hit a new milestone over the Christmas weeks, as sales in December passed the €1 billion for the first time ever.

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

All of the major retailers achieved growth over the festive season, but Kantar noted that sales of alcohol dropped by €10.5m with shoppers spending 5.3% less on beer and 2.2% less on wine. 

Soft drinks sales rose by 2.7% as shoppers turned to alternative, alcohol-free options.

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

Today’s figures from Kantar show that Dunnes retained its position as the country’s biggest retailer – and it was the only supermarket which did not see a slowdown in growth. 

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

Dunnes secured a market share of 23.6% in the latest 12 weeks, 1.2 percentage points higher than its average over the rest of the year.  

SuperValu, which typically performs best over the summer, had a welcome Christmas boost and increased sales by 1.4% – slightly higher than the same time last year.

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

Aldi was the strongest performing retailer over Christmas, with sales up 6.3%, while Lidl’s market share of 10.9% was its highest ever over the festive period.  

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

“The number of people buying turkey fell by 3% and the trimmings did not fare much better as sales of Brussel sprouts, carrots, parsnips and potatoes all declined,” Ms Scott said. 

“It was a similar story in the dessert aisles as the value of mince pies dropped by 13% and Christmas puddings by 10%. Ham resisted the trend, growing at 5% as shoppers paired it with their Christmas dinner,” she added.

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