Food sales in Ireland have fallen for the first time in a year, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel.

Grocery sales in Ireland dropped 0.5% in the 12 weeks to 4 September, Kantar said yesterday (19 September).

The fall in sales came amid a slowdown in food inflation, which stood at 2.5%, compared to 4.4% for the 12 weeks to 7 August.

The country’s two largest retailers, Tesco and Dunnes, managed to increase their market share. However, Tesco increased its lead over Dunnes year-on-year. The UK retailer now accounts for 27.9% of the Irish food retail market, while Dunnes has a market share of 22.9%. A year earlier, Tesco’s share was 27.2%, compared to Dunnes’ 22.6%.

SuperValu, Ireland’s third-largest food retailer, saw its market share fall from 19.8% to 19.5%.

Elsewhere, Superquinn, which moved into receivership in July and is subject to a takeover bid from SuperValu owner Musgrave Group, saw its market share fall from 6.5% to 6%.

Kantar Worldpanel commercial director David Berry said there had been a “clear gap” in the performance of Ireland’s multiple retailers and their convenience rivals. “Each of the major retailers have placed further emphasis on the value they offer in store and this, combined with a Back To School push, has succeeded in switching sales away from smaller outlets,” Berry said.

The tough trading conditions in Ireland continue to benefit discount retailers, with LIDL and Aldi both increasing their market share. Lidl now accounts for 6.4% of food sales in Ireland, compared to 5.9% a year earlier, while Aldi’s market share climbed from 3.5% to 4.4%.

Berry claimed Aldi was the only retailer in Ireland to “perform positively in all areas”. He said: “It has more customers and these customers are shopping more often and spending more each visit.”