By Eamon Quinn
Irish grocery spending continued to set records to reach a high of €2.61bn for any January period and the second highest only to the Christmas period, as grocery prices remained largely unchanged, according to a major study.
Based on 30,000 items, the latest Kantar Worldpanel Ireland findings showed that €2.61bn was spent in the 12 weeks to the end of January, a huge increase of 3.5% from the same period a year earlier.
The value of the market was only greater for the 12 weeks to the end of December, at €2.63bn, and was therefore the second highest ever, Worldpanel Ireland said.
Prices fell a bit, by 0.1% from the previous period, helped by the surge in the strength of the euro against sterling since the UK voted in the summer of 2016 to leave the EU.
Grocery prices here are sensitive to exchange rate changes against sterling because so many supermarket goods are made in Britain and priced in sterling and shipped to Ireland.
The big five supermarket groups again grabbed the lion’s share — a combined 88.8% — of that €2.61bn grocery pie in the latest period.
Dunnes retained its top spot with a share of 23.2% after posting the single largest growth in sales measured by value compared with its main rivals.
With a share of 22.7%, Tesco also posted impressive growth but remained in second place, ahead of SuperValu, after cashing a share of 22.2% of the €2.61bn spend.
The German discounters, Lidl and Aldi, secured fourth and fifth rankings by winning market shares of 10.5% and 10.3%, respectively.
Kantar Worldpanel’s David Berry highlighted the growth of Iceland from a very low market share following its openings of new frozen food stores.
Separately, credit card company Visa said its latest survey which covers all types of spending, including cash, showed a surge of 5.3% in the year in Irish household spending — the fastest pace for a year-and-a-half, it said, with face-to-face spending also posting strong growth.
“The resilience of Irish consumer spending is in stark contrast to the situation in the UK, where there was a disappointing start to the year as consumer spending fell for the fifth month in a row on an annual basis, with households continuing to face rising living costs and lacklustre wage growth,” Visa said.
Its UK consumer survey showed spending fell 1.2% in the year “with spending having now fallen in eight of the past nine months”.