Business

Northern Ireland's falling supermarket sales could be boosted by cross-border trade

Consumer spending at Northern Ireland supermarkets fell 0.1 per cent last year

SUPERMARKET sales in Northern Ireland were squeezed over the past year - albeit by just 0.1 per cent - according to the latest figures from analysts Kantar Worldpanel.

But the performance was in contrast with spending south of the border where grocery stores in the Republic benefited from a 2.5 per cent jump in sales over the 12 weeks to June 19.

But Kantar Worldpanel suggested the fortunes may reverse in the wake of the EU referendum vote which may make shopping in Northern Ireland more attractive to those in the south.

The data from the north, which cover the year to June 19, showed that Tesco is still comfortably the most popular destination, commanding 34.4 per cent of the overall share.

Sainsbury and Asda meanwhile are locked in second place on 17.6 per cent each.

Kantar Worldpanel insight director Georgieann Harrington said: "While the grocery market is in growth, the landscape remains competitive.

"With the recent EU referendum result and the weakening of the pound against the euro, it could be that we see Irish shoppers return to old habits: during the recession many headed across the border in search of better value at UK retailers in Northern Ireland.

"Cross-border shopping only accounted for 0.3 per cent of Irish grocery sales in the latest 12 week period, but at the peak of the recession this stood at 4.1 per cent.”

With the exception of Tesco all of the major retailers in the Republic increased sales in the past 12 weeks, with Dunnes Stores posting the strongest performance and growing sales by 5.9 per cent. The retailer attracted an extra 13,000 shoppers to its stores this year with the average spend increasing by almost €20 (£16.75).

Lidl posted the second highest sales growth of 5.8 per cent which was mainly the result of attracting an additional 55,000 shoppers. Aldi sales grew by 3.6 per cent in the latest quarter, with the discounter also recruiting an impressive 37,000 customers versus last year. However a combination of flat shopper numbers and only marginal increases in average spend mean Aldi continues to lag behind Lidl.

Georgieann Harrington added: “SuperValu retains its position as Ireland’s largest retailer, growing its sales by 1.4 per cent and capturing 22.6 per cent of market share. SuperValu’s success is largely down to persuading the average shopper to spend an extra €14 (£11.73) per trip, no doubt driven by its ‘Let’s Get Cooking’ campaign.

“Sales remain challenging for Tesco in second place: the retailer saw a decline of 2.7 per cent in the past 12 weeks. It’s not all bad news for Ireland’s number two retailer though, with the number of visits to its stores edging up: from 14 on average last year to 15 this year.”

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