Consumers set for fresh savings as supermarkets' 'fierce' battle continues
The battle between grocery chains for market share is poised to deliver big savings for consumers this year.
Research group Kantar Worldpanel said that grocery inflation is set to stay low in 2017 as the supermarket giants duke it out for supremacy.
Meanwhile, the see-saw at the top of Ireland's grocery market league has continued, with Dunnes Stores having regained the top spot from SuperValu, figures from Kantar Worldpanel show.
However, there's now barely any difference between the top three retailers in the multi-billion euro market.
Figures for the 12 weeks to January 29 show that Dunnes had a 22.7pc market share in the period. SuperValu, controlled by the Cork-based Musgrave Group, had 22.5pc and Tesco had 22.4pc.
The data measures the share of the value of sales, rather than the volume.
Kantar Worldpanel director David Berry said that the value of sales at Dunnes Stores in the latest period rose 3.6pc.
That was the lowest pace of increase in more than a year, which he said should be of "some concern" to the family-owned business, which is headed up by Margaret Heffernan.
The figures also show that consumers lapsed into a post-Christmas spending slowdown.
Grocery sales growth fell to 3pc in the period, down from 4.6pc in the previous 12-week period. "The slowdown in overall market growth has led to even stronger competition between the major supermarkets," Mr Berry said.
"This points to a good year for consumers as the retailers battle each other fiercely for their all-important grocery spend, keeping price inflation low," he added.
"Grocery prices are only 0.7pc higher than they were this time last year - which for the average shopper only amounts to an extra 17 cents per trip."
Mr Berry said that issues affecting the supply of fresh produce have contributed to a dampening of consumer demand in the past few weeks.
Heavy rain and snow in Spain has hit supplies of vegetables such as aubergines, broccoli, lettuce and artichokes.
"Courgettes, cauliflower and spinach have all seen volume sales drop by at least 20pc, while a host of other categories including lettuce and cabbages have been affected to a lesser degree," said Mr Berry.
Kantar Worldpanel's figures also show that Aldi and Lidl had a combined 20.9pc of the Irish market in the latest period.
Aldi had 10.6pc and Lidl 10.3pc.