A record-breaking £4.2 billion was rung through the tills of the north’s major supermarkets and symbol stores in the year to January 21, with total sales up 12.6%, according to fresh data from Kantar.
Its research shows that the average household spent an all-time high of £5,565, which was up £613 year-on-year.
And at the beginning of the year, Northern Irish shoppers embraced a health-conscious approach, resulting in a 6.6% increase in the sales of fruits, vegetables and salads.
Take-home grocery sales also increased as shoppers visited stores more often, averaging eight trips more than the previous year, though the number of packs sold continued to decline year-on-year by 1.1%.
Food price inflation fell slightly to 6.8% in January, down from 6.9% in December, according to Kantar.
But its figures say grocery inflation fell in January for the fourth consecutive month, and is now sitting at the level last seen in May 2023.
“This means the average annual grocery bill is set to rise by £762 from £5,565 to £6,327 if consumers don’t make changes to their shopping habits,” according to Emer Healy, business development director at Kantar.
“Although grocery inflation levels are falling, they are still exceptionally high, and consumers in Northern Ireland continue to face significant pressures on their budgets, making the landscape as competitive as ever as retailers look for ways to attract shoppers through the door.
“One of the ways retailers are doing this is through their own-label lines and additional promotions. Over 21% of sales were made through a promotional offer, a level this high has not been seen since November 2020.”
She added: “Own-label ranges remained popular in January as shoppers tightened their purse strings after an indulgent festive period.
“Own-label sales were up 16% year-on-year as shoppers spent an additional £260 million on these ranges versus last year. Branded products grew slightly behind the market at 10% year-on-year and holding 54.1% value market share.”
Kantar said the 6.6% increase in the sales of fruits, vegetables and salads led to an additional £6.8 million in spending compared to the previous year.
Additionally, there was a 30.7% surge in sales of mineral water, with shoppers spending an extra £1.8 million compared to the year before.
As consumers returned to work and schools, they sought quick and convenient meal solutions, leading to a year-on-year increase of £2.8 million in spending on chilled convenience products.
Tesco maintains its position at the top of the table and is the largest grocer with a 34.9% share of the market. It welcomed an influx of new shoppers in-store, along with more frequent trips, which contributed an additional £114.2 million to its overall performance.
Sainsbury’s holds 16.8% market share up while Asda has a 15.9% slice of the market, and they added £110.9m and £39.5m respectively over the period.
Lidl holds a 9.1% market share and welcomed an influx of new shoppers alongside more frequent trips which contributed £35.5 million to its performance.
Symbol stores (the likes of Spar and EuroSpar for example) had a 6.8% market share, Kantar said.