German discounters Lidl and Aldi shared the title of Britain’s fastest growing supermarket in the last three months of 2017, as the average household shrugged off economic worries to spend a record £1,054 on groceries, new figures show.
Both retailers increased their sales by 16.8 per cent compared with the same period the previous year, taking Aldi’s share of the entire UK grocery market to 6.8 per cent from 6 per cent a year earlier and Lidl’s to 5 per cent from 4.4 per cent, Kantar Worldpanel said.
Last week, Aldi announced that total UK sales were more than 15 per cent higher during December compared to the same month in 2016, pushing them over the £10 billion barrier for the first time.
Tesco was the fastest growing of the UK’s “big four” supermarkets over the 12 weeks to the end of December, with sales up 3.1 per cent.
This is the fastest sales growth the retailer has seen since June, helped by a 6.4 per cent increase in sales of its standard own label.
With Christmas Day falling on a Monday, Tesco Express branches, like other convenience stores, were able to benefit from restricted Sunday opening hours for larger supermarkets and were able to capitalise on consumers wanting to do their shopping closer to home immediately before the big day, Kantar said.
Its figures show that Britons spent £1bn more than last year over the three months including Christmas.
Despite tightening household budgets, shoppers continued to trade up to more expensive options, with a record £469 million spent on premium own-label lines in December alone. Shoppers parted with £747m on 22 December alone, making the Friday before Christmas the busiest shopping day ever recorded.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Overall supermarket sales increased in value by 3.8 per cent, with an additional £1bn ringing through the tills compared to the same festive period a year earlier.
“In some ways Christmas is a tricky time for the discounters: they tend to lose a little market share compared to earlier in the year as many shoppers return to the more traditional supermarkets in search of old favourites.
“Rising to the challenge, Aldi and Lidl collectively managed to attract nearly one million additional households during the past three months.”
Despite a successful festive period, Tesco is still growing behind the market with a 0.2 percentage point fall in actual market share to 28 per cent.
Meanwhile, analysts Nielsen said shoppers spent almost £500m more on groceries this December than the last one.
Spending over the four weeks to 30 December hit £10.5bn, a 3.7 per cent year-on-year rise, Nielsen said, with grocery sales up 3.2 per cent over the whole of 2017 on the previous year.
Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight, said: “The supermarkets did well this Christmas, particularly amid fierce price competition and shoppers starting to feel the squeeze on disposable incomes.
“It was in stark contrast to many high street retailers who saw less footfall and sales declines.”