Irish grocery sales in Ireland slowed during the week ending March 22, down 6.8% compared to the previous week but still up 19% compared to the same time last year.

New figures from Nielsen show that alcohol was the only category to experience growth in the week under review. 

Nielsen said the decline suggested that stockpile shopping related to the Covid-19 crisis may have reached its peak. 

The previous week saw the peak in stockpiling as people prepared for quarantine living, but now shoppers are using up their stockpiled supplies with many shoppers unwilling or unable to go out.  

This slowdown in panic-buying was seen across major categories such as household (down 17%), ambient (shelf stable) groceries (down 17%) and health and beauty (down 21%). 

Popular stockpiling products such as hand sanitisers (down 48%), toilet tissue ( down 41%), soap (down 39%) and pasta (down 32%) all also saw declines compared to the previous week. 

Alcohol was the only category to experience growth with sales up by 4.3% to €35.8m. 

Karen Mooney, Ireland market leader at Nielsen, said that as many Irish shoppers had already stocked up on their essential items during the last few weeks, the first signs of sales stabilising across the Irish supermarkets are starting to emerge. 

"The significant rise in alcohol sales over the last week shows that Irish consumers are not letting the pandemic, and the closure of pubs, stop them from celebrating the festivities they would have enjoyed around St Patrick's Day," Ms Mooney said.

"Looking ahead, Irish shoppers will continue to be encouraged to stay at home with all non-essential businesses to remain closed until at least Easter Sunday, though this is likely to be extended further," she added. 

"New shopper trends, such as the preference for premium and branded products are likely to continue over the next few weeks as shoppers adjust to this new normal," she added.