Consumers spent over €1 billion on groceries in October, €161.6m more than last year, as families made more meals to eat at home, new figures show today.

October marked the biggest month for grocery sales since the height of the previous lockdown in June, the latest figures from Kantar show.

Today's figures also show that grocery sales growth accelerated to 14.4% during the 12 weeks to November 1.

Kantar noted that the year-on-year growth was stronger again over the latest four weeks, reaching 18.8%, as the nationwide lockdown closed restaurants, cafés and non-essential retailers. 

It also said that as the end of the year approaches, consumers are accepting that seasonal traditions and festivities will look a little different this year.  

Kantar said that Halloween was a quieter affair this year and sales of multipack sweets declined by 40% compared with October last year. Sales of pumpkins also dropped by 15.5% as households had less need for the usual decorations. 

"It's not all doom and gloom though, and lockdown has led some Irish shoppers to get into the Christmas spirit unseasonably early," Emer Healy, retail analyst at Kantar, said. 

"They are getting ahead on preparations for the big day and 50% more shoppers have bought their Christmas turkey than had at this point last year, while sales of mince pies are up 36.8% and boxed chocolate sales by 44%," Ms Healy said.

Meanwhile, online grocery sales continue to soar, rising by 90% year on year in the latest four weeks. 

"Online grocery continues to set new records, with almost 255,000 of us shopping through digital channels in October," Ms Healy said.

"New converts to online grocery contributed an additional €30.8m to the market in the past month as tighter restrictions were introduced. Shoppers also increased the size of their digital trolleys by 9.6%," she added.

Today's figures show that Dunnes held the largest share of the grocery market at 22.2% in the 12 weeks to November.

Kantar noted that Dunnes' sales were particularly strong in Dublin, where shoppers have been living under lockdown since mid-September and spent an additional €38.8m at the retailer in the latest 12 weeks.  

Tesco customers picked up an average of three additional items per shop over the past 12 weeks – the biggest increase in trip volume among all the retailers. The grocer grew sales by 14.8% to hold a 21.2% market share. 

Chilled-convenience categories like pizza and ready meals proved popular at all the retailers, and this was particularly true at SuperValu which boosted sales of the "cosy night in" favourites by 15% year on year.  Sales at the grocer grew by 18.0% this period and it increased its market share by 0.7 percentage points to 21.9%.

As people look for ways to treat themselves at home, Kantar said that Lidl customers spent an additional 50% on branded products in the latest 12 weeks. The grocer once again achieved the strongest growth among the retailers over the past three months, growing by 21.1% to hold a 12.7% share of the market.  

Meanwhile, Aldi's sales grew by 11.7% the latest 12 week period, mainly driven by an increase in spend per buyer and shoppers adding more items to their baskets.