Grocery sales continue to soar - but high streets feel the pain

Footfall on Northern Ireland's high streets and in shopping centres and retail parks is all down on a year ago, according to analysts Springboard
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE Northern Irish grocery market has seen sales soar by 13.6 per cent over the last 12 weeks as the market eased out of lockdown.

But while supermarket tills have been kept ticking over, it's been a more bleak picture at other shopping destinations, with separate figures revealing a further decline in footfall at high streets and retail parks.

According to Kantar relating to grocery sales share, Lidl continues to be the north's best performing retailer, growing its sales by 10.5 per cent over the last 52 weeks and gaining 0.1 percentage points in share.

It welcomed new shoppers through its doors and average spend per trip also increased by 12.5 per cent. Higher average prices, growing by 1.3 per cent, also contributed to its success.

Northern Ireland’s largest retailer Tesco increased its sales by 8.4 per cent year on year and added 0.3 percentage points to its market share. Growth was driven by people buying more in store, with trip size up 10.3 per cent, and a 1.8 per cent rise in average prices.

Meanwhile sales at Asda were up by 2.3 per cent and at Sainsbury’s by 7.6 per cent (Asda customers who made the biggest additions to their weekly food shop as volumes grew by 17 per cent).

Kantar retail analyst Emer Healy said: “As we move away from the extremes of lockdown, it’s evident cleanliness remains front of mind for consumers, with sales of household and cleaning products up 13.6 per cent over the latest 12 weeks.

“Take-home confectionery as well as crisps and snacks have also grown ahead of the market at 19 per cent and 21.4 per cent respectively over the same period as shoppers continue to look for ways to treat themselves at home.”

Meanwhile latest data from retail experts Springboard reveals that footfall in all of the north's retail destinations is down by 28.4 per cent on this time last year.

The most marked declines have been on the high street (down 32.5 per cent) and shopping centres (down 16 per cent), while the annual fall in retail parks is just 1.5 per cent.

On a week-on-week basis, overall footfall in the north was down 5.8 per cent over the August 16-22 period compared to the previous week, again significantly influenced by empty high streets (a weekly fall of 10.6 per cent).

But over the week, there was actually a growth of 8.4 per cent in shopping centres.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “There has been a further incremental recovery in footfall compared with 2019, and it's the 16th consecutive week in which the annual decline has lessened, which offers a glimmer of hope for retailers.”

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