Asda and Sainsbury’s market shares in Ireland dropped “significantly” in the 12 weeks to the end of October as shoppers in the country snubbed trips to the North and instead flocked to discount retailers Aldi and Lidl.

According to figures published by Kantar Worldpanel yesterday (22 November), Asda and Sainsbury’s saw its share of the market drop from 2.5% in the same period last year to 2% in the last 12 weeks.

Asda and Sainsbury’s do not have stores in the Republic of Ireland but, in recent months, Irish shoppers have flocked across the border to their outlets in the North – meaning the two UK retailers effectively have a share of Irish grocery spending.

Aldi however, experienced value growth of more than 12% and Lidl close to 8% in the last 12 weeks. Tesco also attracted more shoppers, with value growth of 5.8% in the 12-week period.

The figures show that the Irish grocery market has had its highest growth since February 2009.

The Irish grocery market grew 1.4% this month, but the gap between the growth rate and the level of inflation has widened, according to Kantar, with prices increasing by 3.3%, 2% above the market growth, suggesting that shoppers are “saving their pennies” in preparation for tax rises expected in the December budget.

Other Irish retailers including SuperValu and Superquinn also lost share during the period. Although SuperValu’s sales have remained flat, its share of the market dropped slightly to 19.8%, while Superquinn’s share dropped to 6.5%, as sales fell by 2.9% in the last 12 weeks.

David Berry, commercial director at Kantar Worldpanel Ireland, said it will now be “interesting” to see what impact Iceland has on the market following the recent announcement of its plans to increase its presence in Ireland.

“Currently Iceland has four stores in Ireland and it intends to increase this to more than 40 over the next three years. With the discounters performing well at the moment, this could prove to be a lucrative move,” Berry said.