Storm Emma drink sales help lift grocery by €9.6m

Grocery shops got an unexpected windfall from the snow drifts and Storm Emma, with shoppers’ bulk-buying of milk, bread, and, alcohol helping to add €9.6m in sales in a week, according to Nielsen data.

The biggest winners were convenience stores and luxury foods, according to the market researcher.

From the stores’ perspective, “the beauty of the beast for grocery retail was that people spent more on almost every single category,” said Nielsen Ireland commercial director Matt Clark.

“The weather warnings and near-curfew type advice meant uncertainty was a major driver of people buying more groceries. However, the real growth was not in staples such as bread and milk but indulgent categories such as alcohol, confectionery, and snacks,” he said.

Its survey showed shoppers upped their spend by €9.6m during the storm, which hit on March 1, from the previous week. The spend was up €15.2m, or 6%, from a year earlier.

Wine sales soared in the week by €2.6m and beer sales by €2.4m, while frozen foods such as pizza and garlic bread, sold well, as did home fire ignition products.

Convenience stores captured most of the increased spend, outstripping their big store rivals.

“It was as though an unexpected holiday mood prevailed, with consumers tempted to treat themselves during the lockdown. For retailers, it was a case of warm trade winds blowing in, particularly for convenience stores as the few shopping forays could only be done on foot,” said Mr Clark.

Shoppers are on course to spend over €10.9bn this year on groceries — up €420m on 2017 — based on trends over the early months.

According to Kantar Worldpanel Ireland, Irish grocery shops had a good start to the year even before the effects of Storm Emma and snow storms locked the country down.

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