March busiest month for Irish grocery sales on record

Consumers stocked up on personal hygiene products with hand soap sales up 300%

March was the busiest month for grocery sales ever recorded, new data shows, as shoppers bought more than they did during the Christmas 2019 period.

Over the 12 weeks to March 22nd, sales in the State's grocery retailers rose by 10.1 per cent with growth in the four weeks to March 22nd of 27 per cent, according to figures from data company Kantar.

Grocery sales reached €2.8 billion over the course of the 12 week period, €250 million up on the same period last year and exceeding the previous peak seen at Christmas.

The average household spend an additional €122 on groceries during the four weeks to March 22nd as shoppers stockpiled some goods.


As consumers look to comply with public health guidelines, shoppers stocked up on personal hygiene products and non-perishable foods.

"Sales of hand soap rose by 300 per cent and household cleaners were up by 170 per cent in the" last four four weeks of the period, according to David Berry, Kantar's managing director. "Facial tissues and loo roll were also in demand, with sales up by 140 per cent and 86 per cent respectively," he said.

Food items with a long shelf life saw sales increase significantly in the period. Sales of frozen, tinnes and non-perishable foods rose 32 per cent, for example. But there was also increased demand for fresh food, a category which saw sales grow by 16 per cent over the four week period.

“While we’d expect sales to remain strong in the coming weeks and months, there will likely be a rebalancing of sales of fresh and non-perishable items as shoppers with full freezers and cupboards replenish fresh supplies,” Mr Berry said.

Online shopping

Over the course of the 12 week period, Lidl stood out as the fastest growing retailer, boosting sales by 14.7 per cent. Aldi grew sales by 11.9 per cent while Dunnes Stores, SuperValu and Tesco all grew sales by just more than 10 per cent.

Dunnes Stores remained the largest retailer in the State with a market share of 22.3 per cent followed by SuperValu and Tesco with 21.3 per cent each. Aldi and Lidl held a joint 12.3 per cent share of the market each.

The period also saw an increasing number of households do their shopping online. In the four weeks to March 22nd, about one in 10 households bought their shopping online. This represents 25,000 more shoppers than last Christmas, the previous peak, and 54,000 more than the same period in 2019, according to Kantar.

Grocery market inflation, meanwhile, stood at 1.4 per cent for the 12 week period.

The company’s figures are based on the purchasing habits of 5,000 demographically representative houses in the Republic.

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business