SHOPPERS appear to have gone back to the old-fashioned strategy of buying "less and more often" as they tighten their purse strings ahead of another brutal Budget.
New figures from research group Kantar Worldpanel show the average grocery shopping trip is costing the same now as it did in 2005, with consumers spending an average of just €21.30 every time they go to the supermarket.
Tesco and Dunnes are still the major outlets for Irish shoppers.
Trends show however that discounters Aldi and Lidl are increasingly a port of call for hard-pressed consumers keen to make their money stretch further.
"Shoppers are reducing their spending by adopting a 'little and often' approach to shopping trips, which is helping them to limit wastage as they only buy what they need when they need it," said David Berry, commercial director at Kantar Worldpanel.
He added that expectations for the December Budget are also likely to be hitting current spending.
The overall size of the grocery market here has fallen by 0.6pc over the past year, while grocery price inflation is running at 2.3pc. Ireland's main measure of inflation -- the Consumer Price Index -- is currently at 2pc.
Some industry insiders say there's something of a seismic shift under way in how Irish consumers shop, with discounters keeping more customers.
The figures from Kantar continue to underpin that theory.
The figures confirm that both German supermarkets are now bigger than Musgrave-owned Superquinn, whose market share fell 4.6pc in the period to 5.6pc.
Musgrave is still engaged in a turnaround plan for Superquinn, which it acquired last year.
Tesco remained the biggest player in the Irish grocery sector after its market share climbed 2.4pc to 28.7pc in the latest period.
Dunnes, the highest Irish-owned supermarket in the survey, follows closely behind in second place, says the survey which has just been published.
The supermarket giant is ahead of SuperValu, which is also controlled by Musgrave.
Industry trade body Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) said the figures from Kantar were "not a huge surprise".
"The latest supermarket share data is no real surprise given that consumer sentiment is not good due to ongoing speculation regarding the upcoming Budget," said REI chief executive David Fitzsimons.
He added that the fact Aldi and Lidl were now stocking so-called FMCGs (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) is making them a "preferred option" for shoppers. Such products include brands Irish shoppers would be more typically aware of and which they can also find in other supermarkets.