Discounters and Waitrose show best growth

Sales growth at Britain's supermarkets has picked up in recent weeks, helped by rising prices and gains at opposite ends of the market.

Research group Kantar Worldpanel yesterday said grocery sales rose 3.3 per cent year-on-year in the four weeks to 10 July, up from 2.5 per cent in the four weeks ended 15 May.

Growth was driven, in part, by a stronger-than-expected rise in grocery price inflation, which is close to 5 per cent.

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Kantar noted that Britain's grocery market remains polarised, with hard discounters Aldi and Lidl and upmarket chain Waitrose growing much faster than mainstream rivals like Tesco, Asda, and Sainsbury's.

Morrisons remained the fastest-growing of the top four supermarket operators, Kantar added.

The Co-operative also saw strong market share expansion, year-on-year, as it continued to benefit from its acquisition of Somerfield.

Martin Whittingham, director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: "The increasing polarisation of the grocery market looks set to stay as consumers turn to the discounters to cut their budgets while others continue to spend in Waitrose.

"This divergence seems to be reflective of some contrasting lifestyles in the UK at the moment."

Kantar said grocery inflation had risen from 4.6 per cent to 4.8 per cent over the 12 weeks, making it "increasingly likely" it will reach 5 per cent. Its comments chime with recent official data.