Cross-border shopping a growing threat due to sterling's slide - Kantar
International research group Kantar Worldpanel is the latest to warn that grocery shoppers here might drift to Northern Ireland again after sterling weakened against the euro following the Brexit vote.
Shoppers flocked to Northern Ireland in 2009 when the euro neared parity with Sterling at one stage.
That outflow of business created havoc for the retail trade here, and it became a big political issue.
Kantar Worldpanel said that during that peak of cross-border shopping, 4.1pc of grocery sales to shoppers here were accounted for by retailers in Northern Ireland.
The figure currently stands at about 0.3pc.
"With the recent EU referendum result and the weakening of the pound against the euro, it could be that we see Irish shoppers return to old habits," Kantar Worldpanel warned in its monthly update of Ireland's multi-billion euro grocery sector.
The euro is currently worth about 84p, compared to about 76p just before the UK's EU referendum.
The chief executive of Cork-based Musgrave, Chris Martin, told the Irish Independent in April that Brexit posed a major threat to the retail trade here. Musgrave controls brands including SuperValu and Centra.
"We've been here before, when the exchange rates were close. We saw all the cross-border activity and some of that may re-emerge," he said at the time.
Kantar Worldpanel's latest data - for the 12 weeks to June 19 - shows that SuperValu has retained its position as the country's biggest grocery retailer, with a 22.6pc share.
Tesco is close behind, with 22pc. Dunnes Stores remains in third place, holding a 21.4pc share.
SuperValu recorded a 1.4pc rise in the value of its sales in the period, while Tesco saw a 2.7pc decline, as it continues to promote value to customers.
But grocery inflation stood at 2.1pc for the period, beating the growth figure at SuperValu.
Dunnes Stores, while in third position, demonstrated strong growth in the value of its sales, however, with the figure rising 5.9pc.
The chain, headed by Margaret Heffernan and Frank Dunne, has been vying to regain lost ground, with new products and offerings, coupled with a couponing strategy.
Kantar Worldpanel said that Dunnes Stores attracted an extra 13,000 shoppers in the latest period, with the average spend per shopping trip rising by almost €20.
Georgieann Harrington, insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, said the average spend per household across all grocery retailers has risen by €27 this year.
"While higher prices have played a small part, this growth is primarily the result of an increased number of shopping trips: the average household has made 62 visits on average over the past 12 weeks, compared with 58 trips last year," she said.
With the number of items per basket also falling, we're seeing a return to the tendency to shop 'little and often'."
Lidl posted sales growth of 5.8pc in the period - just below that of Dunnes. The German chain attracted 55,000 more customers.
Aldi's sales rose 3.6pc, luring 37,000 more shoppers.
Lidl has an 11.7p share of the market, while Aldi has 11.1pc, according to Kantar Worldpanel, which surveys 5,000 households.