St Patrick's Day offers booze and brekkie boost to retailers

St Patrick's Day led to a spike in grocery sales in the north in March according to Kantar
Gary McDonald Business Editor

SAINT Patrick's Day provided retailers in the north with a big uplift in sales as shoppers stocked up on Irish breakfast favourites and alcohol, which had hit their highest point since the New Year.

That feeds into latest figures from Kantar, which shows that overall grocery sales in Northern Ireland grew by 1.2 per cent in the 52 weeks to March 24.

But with Easter falling three weeks later than last year, and the absence of the extreme weather which provided an unexpected boost for some retailers in 2018, the growth was marginally slower than 12 months ago.

Douglas Faughnan, consumer insight director at Kantar, said Tesco maintained its place as the north's largest retailer.

“Its overall share of the market was unmoved from last year at 35.2 per cent, and it also registered solid grocery sales growth of 1.2 per cent," he said.

“Sainsbury's solidified its position as the number two retailer with sales up 0.9 per cent compared with last year. Sainsbury's continues to hold market share of 17.3 per cent – marginally ahead of Asda on 17 per cent.

“Lidl's growth of 6.8 per cent over the past 12 months was the largest sales increase by some distance and all signs suggest this trend is set to continue. It now accounts for 5.9 per cent of the market – exactly half of the share it holds in the Republic of Ireland – which means it still has plenty of room for growth north of the border.”

But sales at the mainly independently-run so-called symbol stores slipped back 1.7 per cent over the period, an they currently command 7.9 per cent of the total market share (down from 8.2 per cent a year ago).

In the Republic, the grocery market grew by 3.2 per cent. Aldi was again Ireland's fastest growing supermarket while Dunnes Stores was the country's largest grocer for the seventh period in a row.

Mr Faughnan added: “If the early evidence is anything to go on, spring 2019 could be a bumper period for the Irish grocery market. The late Easter hasn't stopped retailers promoting seasonal favourites – the holiday weekend is still two weeks away but already over half of Irish households have stocked up on Easter Eggs.

“So far the grocers have been focusing their efforts on multi-buy offers to encourage shoppers to splash out a little earlier than they usually would. This has proven successful to date: over €15 million has been spent on Easter Eggs in 2019 and 41 per cent of these have been bought as part of a deal.”

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