The Irish grocery retail market has continued its strong growth into the new year, with shopper spend increasing by 3.8% for the 12 weeks to the end of January.

This compares with growth of 3.5% for the sector over the Christmas period.

The figures from Kantar Worldpanel show that SuperValu remains Ireland’s number one grocery retailer, with 25% of the market.

Impressive sales growth of 4.4% in the last three months has seen the grocer perform ahead of the market, increasing its share from 24.8% last year.

Shoppers visited the retailer nearly 21 times on average in the latest period – more frequently than last year – spending an additional €27 with SuperValu as a result.

Tesco remains in second place with a 24.5% share of the grocery market and sales growth of 1.1% makes this the most positive performance Tesco has seen since November 2012. 

Meanwhile, Dunnes has enjoyed the strongest rate of growth of the top three supermarkets with sales up 5.1% compared with last year.

This is due in part to larger shopping trips with Dunnes successfully encouraging shoppers to spend an additional €1.70 on average every time they visit the store.

Dunnes overall market share stands at 24.1%.

Growth among the discount retailers is also strong, with Lidl seeing double-digit growth for the fourth consecutive 12 weekly period.

The German retailer is successfully driving growth across the board, with a higher number of shoppers visiting its stores more often and spending a larger amount each time.

Aldi also posted a positive performance, with sales 2.9% higher than in 2015. The main growth driver for Aldi has been an increase in customer numbers; almost 65% of all Irish households visited the retailer within the past 12 weeks, compared with just shy of 63% a year ago.

Commenting on the figures, Insight Director at Kantar Worldpanel Georgieann Harrington said: “The increased consumer confidence we saw over Christmas has continued, with little indication that shoppers are tightening their belts after the festive period.

“Combined with a 0.4 percentage point increase in price inflation over the past 12 weeks, this means that consumers have been spending more on their grocery shopping than this time last year,” she added.

Inflation for the grocery market was 2.4% for the 12 weeks to the end of January, up from 2.0% for the previous 12-week period measured by Kantar.