Irish shoppers spent €1.2bn on Christmas groceries – but less alcohol bought

Irish shoppers splashed out a record €1.2bn for groceries for Christmas, but the fizz went out of Champagne and sparking wine as sales of the drinks tumbled.

New figures from global data firm Nielsen this morning confirm the huge amount of money spent on groceries in the four weeks to December 29.

The splurge on everything from turkeys to Brussels spouts was €32.5m more than in the corresponding period a year earlier, according to Nielsen.

But even as we stocked up our larders, Irish shoppers were buying less booze to nurse themselves through the festive season.

Nielsen said that alcohol sales in the four-week period declined 2.9pc. Sales of Champagne and sparking wine slumped 11.3pc.

Consumers may have been trying to be a bit more health conscious in the season of indulgence, with sales of non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic beer jumping 27.2pc in the period. Cider sales were down 4.5pc compared to a year earlier, while whiskey sales were up 4.3pc.

The research firm said that Irish households’ average grocery spend per week rose from €165 to €182 in December.

Nielsen’s rival research firm, Kantar, also published this morning that showed grocery sales here topped €1bn in December. Kantar claimed that this is the first time the €1bn mark has been breached in December, but Nielsen claimed that in 2018 grocery sales in December were also higher than €1bn.

Kantar consumer insight director Charlotte Scott said that Ireland enjoyed a “less traditional” Christmas in 2019, with some classics “falling out of favour”.

She said the number of people buying a turkey fell 3pc, while sales of Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips and potatoes all declined. Sales of mince pies were 13pc lower in value terms, and Christmas pudding sales 10pc down on the same basis.

Aldi was the best performer over the Christmas, with its sales jumping 6.3pc in the 12 weeks to December 29.

“It was a relatively sober Christmas, as sales of alcohol dropped by €10.5m,” added Ms Scott. “Shoppers spent 5.3pc less on beer and 2.2pc less on wine. Only SuperValu and Dunnes bucked the trend, increasing alcohol sales by 3.9pc and 0.7pc respectively. Soft drinks sales rose by 2.7pc as shoppers turned to alternative, alcohol-free options.”

Kantar said that Dunnes Stores retained its position as Ireland’s biggest grocery retailer in the 12 weeks to December 29, with a 23.6pc share. Tesco was second, with 22pc, while SuperValu had 21.8pc.

The rankings are based on the value of sales, rather than volume.

Aldi had an 11.3pc share, while Lidl had 10.9pc.

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