Discounters rule as more Scots pick Aldi and Lidl

The flight of Scots shoppers to Aldi has cost the Big Four stores �70 million over a year. Picture: John Devlin
The flight of Scots shoppers to Aldi has cost the Big Four stores �70 million over a year. Picture: John Devlin
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ONE pound in every ten spent in Scottish supermarkets is taken by discount stores Aldi and Lidl – more than elsewhere in the UK, new figures have revealed.

As many people in Scotland now shop in Lidl as in Sainsbury’s – with only Tesco and Asda still attracting more customers than the German discounter, an analysis of data compiled by market research firm Kantar Worldpanel showed.

They have ensured a lot of their food is Scottish

Lidl and its homeland rival Aldi have a combined share of 10.1 per cent of total supermarket spend across Scotland – pushing over the 10 per cent threshold for the first time, figures for the three months to the end of March show – compared with a smaller share of just 9 per cent across Britain over the past year. A further £3 in every ten is spent in ­Tesco north of the Border, while 20 per cent of market share goes to Asda.

Only Sainsbury’s has a higher proportion of shoppers’ spend in the rest of the UK compared with Scotland.

Experts said a drive to sell local produce at Aldi and Lidl, combined with an increase in popularity among wealthy shoppers as well as bargain hunters, had driven sales.

The report revealed that the “Big Four” retailers – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – collectively lost around £70 million spent in Scottish supermarkets directly to Aldi over the past year.

Leigh Sparks, professor of retail studies at Stirling University, said that despite the discounters’s German roots, they had managed to convince Scottish shoppers to regard them as a “local store”.

“They have focused on trying to be local,” he said. “They have ensured a lot of their food is Scottish – they have stocked local produce and worked on being a local store and that goes down well in Scotland particularly. They have also spent a lot on advertising and marketing – both on TV and through door drops and that counts for a lot as their presence is felt.”

He added: “The difference about Scotland is also that it is centred around a fairly concentrated geographical area of the central belt and two or three other big cities, which means that a lot of people are exposed to a Lidl or Aldi store as they have expanded.”

Aldi, which this year celebrates 25 years since it launched in the UK, last week overtook Waitrose to become Britain’s sixth largest grocer. The retailer is set to open more than five times the amount of new shop space compared with Tesco this year and more than Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons combined.

Aldi and Lidl saw market share rise by 15.8 per cent and 12.1 per cent respectively, compared to the same period in 2014.

Mark Thomson, business unit director for Kantar Worldpanel in Scotland, said that an increasing trend for shoppers across the economic spectrum to shop at the low-cost stores had boosted sales.

“Our data shows that the dem­ographic of an Aldi or Lidl shopper is just as close to the average as Tesco and Morrisons at the moment,” he said. “The customers are coming not just from the £20,000 total household income bracket, but also from the £40,000-plus bracket.”

However, the typical amount spent on a basket of shopping in the discount stores is still far lower – both due to the lower prices and also the 
fact that many people still regularly visit a “mainstream” supermarket for the products they cannot find in discount stores.

The snapshot of the retail market in Scotland also found that Tesco shoppers make more return trips to the store per week than those who frequent any of the other major retailers.

People who say they shop at Tesco on average visited the store 16 times in the three- month period, while in comparison, Aldi and Lidl shoppers made 6.8 and 7.4 visits respectively.