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Consumers in NI spent £32m less on alcohol from supermarkets as hospitality sector reopened, report shows

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Between April and July last year, the first lockdown was leaving us with no alcohol-fuelled socialising options apart from drinking at home.

Between April and July last year, the first lockdown was leaving us with no alcohol-fuelled socialising options apart from drinking at home.

Emer Healy, Kantar analyst

Emer Healy, Kantar analyst

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Between April and July last year, the first lockdown was leaving us with no alcohol-fuelled socialising options apart from drinking at home.

Lockdown habits of cooking and drinking at home have been dropped as we embrace bars and restaurants with gusto following their reopening, a report on supermarket sales suggests. 

In the 12 weeks to July 11, sales of alcohol in supermarkets in Northern Ireland were down by £32m, a 30% slump on the same time a year earlier, according to research company Kantar. 

Between April and July last year, the first lockdown was leaving us with no alcohol-fuelled socialising options apart from drinking at home, while we were also forced back into our kitchens to cook from scratch. 

Kantar said that in the 12 weeks to July 11, our spending on ingredients for home-cooking was down 18.5% after we rushed back out to cafes and restaurants following the reopening of hospitality from April 30. 

And the grocery spending market as a whole was down 8.1% over the 12 weeks to July 11, compared to the same three-month period a year earlier. 

Kantar retail analyst Emer Healy said the performance was contrasting with “the exceptionally high grocery spending at the height of the first national lockdown”. 

However, there was growth of 4.3% in the market across the year to July 11, with parts of the year affected by lockdowns during the autumn and winter. 

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And because many people were nervous about going out and about, they tended to spend more when they did go to the supermarket, Ms Healy said - so volume sales increased by 5.9% over the year. 

Ms Healy said: “As the hospitality sector gradually reopens, consumers spent £32m less on alcohol from the supermarkets in the latest 12 weeks, a 29.7% decline compared with last year. 

“Sales of home cooking categories declined by 18.5% as people made the most of being able to eat out with friends and family.” 

Tesco, which has around 50 stores here, remained Northern Ireland’s biggest grocer with a market share of 35.6%. Across the year, its sales had grown by 5.2%. 

Sainsbury’s had the second-biggest market share, at 16.9% - but the grocer, with 14 stores here, had the weakest sales growth of the main four grocers, at 3%. 

Asda’s market share put it in third place, with 16.1%, with sales growth of 4.5% putting it far out in front of Sainsbury’s. 

However, discount grocer Lidl, which has around 40 stores here, outpaced all its closest rivals with rapid sales growth of 13.5%. However, it remains the minnow of the ‘big four’, with a market share of 6.8%. 

The category of ‘other multiples,’ which includes operators such as Dunnes and Marks & Spencer, enjoyed sales growth of 4.4%, leaving them with market share of 8.3%. 

However, symbol retailers, which covers convenience operators such as Centra, Mace and Spar, experienced a fall in sales of 3.6%. The category had a market share of 8%. 

Ms Healy said Kantar’s analysis had discovered that Tesco shoppers were picking up an extra two items during each visit, adding to its 5.2% sales growth. 

Sainsbury’s shoppers had made an additional five trips across the year to its stores. 

She said Lidl’s growth could be explained from its customers buying more per trip.


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