Shoppers visited their supermarkets 'an average 261 times this year' says Kantar

The grocery market in Northern Ireland grew by 0.7 per cent in 2019 as shoppers made an average 261 visits to supermarkets
Gary McDonald Business Editor

GROCERY retailers in the north have held on to sales during the 52 weeks to December 1, with the overall market growing at 0.7 per cent, according to fresh data from industry analysts Kantar.

The decline in volume sales slowed to 0.2 per cent year on year as people continued to make additional trips to the shops – on average 261 visits over the course of the year, which is 10 more than last year.

Lidl was the best performing retailer this period with sales 5.2 per cent higher than the previous year and it gained 0.3 percentage points of market share as a result.

Existing customers visiting stores less often was offset by a rise in pack prices, which were up 4 per cent. The retailer’s performance was also helped by attracting new shoppers and encouraging bigger baskets.

Sales at Asda and Sainsbury’s slowed this month, by 1.8 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively. Penetration at Asda has fallen by 1.7 per cent, driven by shoppers making fewer trips and reducing basket sizes. Sainsbury’s has increased its penetration by 0.2 per cent – but shrinking basket sizes, down by 2.2 per cent, has limited its growth.

Tesco remains the only one of the three largest retailers to achieve growth in the past 52 weeks – increasing its market share to 35.4 per cent with sales up by 1.2 per cent.

An increase in shopper frequency outweighed falling basket sizes as Tesco customers made an average of seven more trips to the retailer this year than they did this time last year.

Charlotte Scott, consumer insight director at Kantar, commenting on figures for both Northern Ireland and the Republic, said: “As countdown to Christmas begins, shoppers are already starting to splash out on old favourites. Sales of seasonal biscuits have grown by 16% in the latest 12 weeks alone.

“Tesco has been the stand-out performer in that category and the retailer has sold twice as many so far this year as it had by the same point in 2018.

“Retailers have bet on confectionery with large seasonal tubs of chocolate on shelves earlier than in previous years. In turn, shoppers have cashed in and confectionery sales are showing no signs of slowing down having already added €8.8 million of spend to the market this year compared to last.”

In the Republic Aldi is the fastest growing retailer, increasing its share by 7.9 per cent, but Dunnes remains the dominant force with a 22.8 per cent slice of the market.

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