Monitoring the Irish Groceries Market

The study

This project examined how the grocery retail and wholesale trade responded to the removal of the Groceries Order.

The Competition Authority published three reports:

We found that the retail planning system made it difficult for new retailers to enter the Irish grocery market and existing retailers to expand. This is because the planning system can influence the type of grocery retailers, where they locate, what they offer consumers and the prices that consumers pay.

Recommendations and outcomes

We made seven recommendations to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to promote competition in grocery retailing in Ireland.

In May 2012, the then Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D., published new Retail Planning Guidelines which have fully implemented the majority of Authority’s recommendations. More generally, the language and provisions throughout the Guidelines better reflect the benefits of competition and the interests of consumers in retail development.

The new Retail Planning Guidelines serve to:

  • Reduce barriers to entry into the retail market
  • Widen the choice of retail outlets for consumers
  • Ensure an adequate provision of space for retail development
  • Ensure that consumer attitudes and preferences receive more attention in retail planning policies
  • Make the planning process faster and less burdensome for new retailers
  • Ensure that the planning system no longer unduly favours existing retailers in an area over new retailers but instead looks at the impact of the new retailer on the vitality of the town centre or district centres as a whole

The new Retail Planning Guidelines do not implement one recommendation of the Grocery Monitor Report 3 on retail planning– to remove blanket caps on the size of retail stores. Instead, they revised the existing caps. Therefore, Ireland is unlikely to see the kind of large scale discount retailers that exist in other countries and the lower prices that go with them.

Overall, we believe that the newly published Guidelines strike a better balance between their various objectives and will support the vitality, viability and competitiveness of city and town centres.

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