News surrounding spread of the coronavirus prompted shoppers to load up on handwash products including sanitisers in the 12 weeks to February 23rd with sales of those products rising 15 per cent, according to the latest figures from retail analysts Kantar.
While consumers increased their purchasing of products to ward off illness, the impact of the coronavirus news was less pronounced here than in the UK during the 12-week period.
"We'd expect to see more of an impact towards the end of February and into March, as increased awareness of the virus will likely lead to an uplift in sales of healthcare products," said Charlotte Scott, consumer insights director at Kantar.
“This coupled with the impact of storm Jorge in late February may well lead to growing sales of goods typically associated with stockpiling like pasta and tinned or frozen food,” she added.
Also in the period was Valentine’s Day which provided a boost for grocers. Sales of chocolates and gifts rose 13 per cent over the four weeks to February 23rd, while the sales of wine and chilled ready meals rose 6 per cent.
Dunnes Stores, Tesco and SuperValu all contributed to the boost in promotional activity, increasing sales of boxed chocolates on offer by 23 per cent, 22 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.
Dunnes Stores remained the retailer with the biggest market share in the 12-week period, controlling 23.5 per cent of sales. It was followed by Tesco (21.5 per cent) and SuperValu (21.4 per cent).
German retailers Aldi and Lidl both grew their market share by roughly half a per cent each, with Aldi holding slightly more of the market than its rival. It was Lidl, however, that saw the value of its sales rise the most in the period, up 5.6 per cent compared with the corresponding 12-week period in 2019. The value of Aldi's sales rose 5.3 per cent, while Dunnes was third on that front with the value of its sales up 3.5 per cent.
SuperValu performed particularly well in the organic foods category in the period and now holds 25 per cent of the total organic market. Fruit sales alone grew by an additional €3.1 million in the retailer over the 12 weeks. It also saw a rise in dairy sales with butter, cream and eggs all achieving double-digit growth of 12 per cent, 16 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.
Kantar also found that grocery market inflation stood at 1 per cent per cent for the period.
The company’s figures are based on the purchasing habits of 5,000 demographically representative houses in the Republic.