SuperValu holds on to top spot as shops look to bumper Christmas
SuperValu is still the biggest supermarket chain in the country, with nearly a quarter of the Irish market, according to the latest survey of the market by Kantor Worldpanel.
The report shows that SuperValu had a 24.7pc market share in the 12 weeks to December 6. That was ahead of Tesco's 24.1pc and Dunnes Stores 23.8pc.
SuperValu managed to increase its market share marginally during the period, with sales increasing about 3.7pc at the same time.
The report cements SuperValu's position at the top of the Irish market after overtaking Tesco last year. Between them, SuperValu, Dunnes and Tesco control nearly three-quarters of the Irish market.
Tesco retains second place even though its sales slipped 1.6pc year on year. The UK giant was number one this time last year with a 25.1pc market share, but has slipped back since. Dunnes Stores sales are up 3.6pc during the period.
The discounters continue to make inroads in the market. Aldi has 8.4pc of the market while Lidl's share is 8.5pc.
Lidl is growing rapidly though, with sales up 10.5pc year on year.
Kanter Worldpanel's David Berry said that while SuperValu retained number one spot, it "hasn't all been plain sailing" for them.
"Over the past six months [SuperValu] has seen falling shopper numbers, but in the past 12 weeks it has managed to get that issue under control.
"This has allowed SuperValu to strengthen its position at the top, posting impressive sales growth of 3.7pc and increasing its share of the grocery market to 24.7pc," Mr Berry said.
"Alongside a strong performance in its traditional heartland - fruit and vegetables - the grocer also posted excellent sales in confectionery, crisps and snacks and soft drinks during the past quarter.
"Tesco remains in second place with a 24.1pc share of grocery sales.
"While value sales may have dipped, we have seen growth in the number of items shoppers are picking up on each trip.
"The reduction in value sales is linked to the fact that these items are at a lower price point than last year, leading to a dip in the retailer's value share of the grocery market."
"Dunnes' sales continue to grow, with an increase of 3.6pc this period to cap off a strong year - the retailer has seen non-stop sales growth for the whole of 2015," he said.
"Dunnes has continually managed to encourage shoppers to spend more per trip, with its Shop and Save campaign helping to create a more loyal customer base and increase its market share to 23.8pc."
While the rop three have been consolidating over the past year, Mr Berry said the discounters were continuing to make inroads into their territory.
Elsewhere, Lidl continues to post the strongest growth with sales increasing by 10.6pc as 37,000 more shoppers visited the retailer compared with the same time last year.
"Dublin has proved a particularly strong region for Lidl, with shopper numbers in the nation's capital increasing by 10pc this quarter."
Aldi's performance remains ahead of the overall market, with sales growth of 2.6pc and market share holding at 8.4pc.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Mr Berry said the data showed it could be a "bumper Christmas" for retailers.
"Confectionery, crisps and snacks have all seen double-digit growth in shopper spend when compared with last year, helping to increase overall grocery sales by 2.5pc," Mr Berry said.
SuperValu managing director Martin Kelleher, pictured inset, was jubilant over his company's performance.
"We are pleased with our latest performance and would like to thank our customers for their continued loyalty.
"Our commitment to fresh food leadership is one of the key factors behind our success in the run-up to Christmas," he claimed.