One of the peculiarities of the Irish grocery industry is that online sales here are low compared to, for example, the UK market.
The latest figures from Kantar’s grocery industry share show online sales up 2.2% last month, but that’s coming from a tiny base. Online grocery sales in Ireland still only account for around 4% of the overall market, according to retailers. In Great Britain, the proportion of the online market is more than three times greater than here.
Online sales have grown during the pandemic, but not as much as they might have had given the circumstances. Irish consumers are considered to be tech-savvy. The pandemic spurred massive growth in all kinds of digital business, and customers had a real public health deterrent to going out to supermarkets.
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Yet despite all this, 18 months after the onset of the crisis, more than € 95 out of € 100 spent in Irish supermarkets are still being processed in person.
It is also difficult to see where a significant increase in online grocery sales could come from in the future. German discounters Aldi and Lidl both seem ambivalent about the line and have outsourced the service to third parties to keep costs down – Aldi uses Deliveroo while Lidl uses Buymie.
Tesco and SuperValu offer home delivery from € 4, while Dunnes, which also uses Buymie, only rushed to the market last October, as a reactive measure during the pandemic.
Retailers say one of the barriers is the high cost of home delivery, which is important in the hyper-competitive Irish grocery market. Most supermarkets do subsidize the cost of deliveries to customers and only provide it as an additional service rather than a full-fledged sales channel.
The Irish market may be too small, and outside major urban centers, the population may be too dispersed for online grocery shopping to be as economically viable here as in Britain.